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Charity launches £500,000 fundraising bid to buy church and transform into community space

PUBLISHED: 11:58 08 November 2018 | UPDATED: 12:14 08 November 2018

A campaign has been launched by a Sudbury charity to buy the United Reformed Church in Sudbury Picture: CHRIS SHIMWELL

A campaign has been launched by a Sudbury charity to buy the United Reformed Church in Sudbury Picture: CHRIS SHIMWELL

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A Suffolk charity has launched a bid to raise around half a million pounds to buy a former church to turn the building into a multi-use community space.

HIVE, which is based in Sudbury, has set up a crowdfunding page with the hope of raising enough money to purchase the former United Reformed Church in School Street in the town.

The church, which closed in January 2018, is now sitting unused and the charity has already gained pledges of £200,000 for the project to open it as a community space to the benefit of vulnerable people in the area.

Lesley Ford-Platt, HIVE trustee, said she is hopeful of raising the funds to buy the building from owners the United Reformed Church Eastern Synod.

“We’re about half way there,” she said. “Opening the building as a community space would have all sorts of benefits for local groups.

Lesley Ford-Platt, trustee of Hive, with husband Tony Platt Picture: SUDBURY ROTARYLesley Ford-Platt, trustee of Hive, with husband Tony Platt Picture: SUDBURY ROTARY

“About 18/19 have already said they want to use it and we know from day one, we could have people in there using the building.

“Our biggest concern at the moment is that another winter without heating could increase repair costs.”

As a multi-use community space, the provisionally named ‘Hive Centre’ could offer activities and services for those with mental health difficulties, people with learning and/or physical disabilities, the elderly, young families and those who have experienced domestic abuse.

HIVE will be able to help organisations in Sudbury and surrounding villages through affordable counselling rooms, offices, storage and the use of medium-sized halls.

Mrs Ford-Platt added: “With St Peter’s closing for refurbishment in 2020, it’s important that Sudbury has a space for groups to use.

“There is likely to be some displaced organisations and we don’t want to lose them from the town.”

Members of the community are being asked to get behind a campaign to raise £20,000 to convert the kitchen in the building and bring the charity closer to its fundraising target.

For donations of £20 it will be possible for people to add their name and decorate their own wall tile to go in the building.

For donors of £50, the award will be afternoon tea on the day of the launch of the HIVE Centre, and for donations above that the offer is free tickets for all events organised by HIVE in the building. The crowdfunding appeal will run until December 4.

For more information and to donate, visit www.crowdfunder.co.uk/hive-centre

The HIVE project has also been accepted by the Aviva Community Fund where members of the public are asked to vote for their favourite project.

HIVE could win up to £25,000 towards the purchase price and refurbishment of the building.

Visit www.community-fund.aviva.co.uk/voting/project/view/4-321

Voting is free and anyone who would like to vote and need help with the process can contact Mrs Ford-Platt at lesleyfordplatt@rocketmail.com

Voting closes on November 20.

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