It was reported in our local press (or download pdf if article expires) that a partnership between Suffolk Mind and Churchs’ Conservation Trust has secured £3.6m of funding to restore and re-purpose St Mary at Quay churchas a ‘community wellbeing centre’.
This is an excellent case study on how imaginative partnerships can provide access to funding that might otherwise have been unavailable. I would suspect that securing funding for a basic restoration would be very difficult, if not impossible. Without a clear purpose for the restored building there would surely be little to distinguish this church from the many other redundant churches that could also benefit from restoration. Likewise sourcing funding for a new building, or conversion, for Suffolk Mind’s use would be similarly difficult and take a great amount of work and fund-raising. But combined they have been able to secure funding.
It would appear that Suffolk Mind has gained much more from this arrangement – in that through this imaginative partnership they have been able to access funding intended for “sustain[ing] and transform[ing] our heritage” and using it for what is arguably predominately a mental health project. Granted much of the actual capital will be spent on the fabric of the building and it is another step in the process of restoring the whole waterfront area, but the long-term benefit gained from this funding will in reality predominately be found in mental health & well-being.
Chasing funding can be a struggle for many youth workers and youth project, especially in the present financial climate. This case study, although from a different sector, is a great reminder of the benefit of using imaginative partnerships to unlocking funding which would otherwise be unavailable to us. This is not about partnering with similar organisations to increase the size or efficiency of our funding applications. But bringing together very different organisations to devise unusual projects of mutual benefit that will stand out and appeal to potential funders. Examples for youth sector could include a similar partnership of a historic building charity with youth project that needs a venue, a mobile youth project with a historic vehicle collectors, employment or skills training organisations with an old building in need of restoration. The opportunities for partnership are as limited as our imagination and our ability to network & build professional relationships.