By Emily Bell - Chair of the Ark
Following the closure of the Night Shelter in 2006, we were absolutely delighted when the council handed us the keys to our current home at 10 Castle Foregate. Ideally located opposite the station, it was wonderful to open in a central location under our new banner as a day centre, offering the many services we provide to support the town’s homeless and vulnerable.
With closing the building last year for urgent repairs and more recently the limited opening restrictions. due to COVID-19 , we have clearly demonstrated The Shrewsbury Ark is more than a building. Our strength is in our people; the clients, staff, volunteers, partners and supporters who are all a part of our “A Team”.
10 Castle Foregate has always been a tight squeeze, a situation greatly exacerbated by the COVID-19 distancing regulations. We have been very mindful of the building’s limitations, and for several years, we have been looking for an establishment that would enable us to deliver our services to our full potential.
Finding the right fit for a new home has been incredibly challenging; it has not been an easy task to tick the many essential criteria boxes. As well as a significant increase in square footage, we need to be close to public transport hubs, and there are restrictions that come when working with individuals with highly complex needs.
However, the Trustees believe we have found the building which ticks those boxes, and recently took the decision to make an offer to purchase the Rock & Fountain pub, (just a few buildings down from our existing headquarters,) at 32 Castle Foregate.
As the new Chair of the Ark, I am absolutely delighted to inform our supporters, this offer has been accepted, subject to survey, to approval for the Change of Use, and to all the inevitable intricacies of property purchase.
Our application for change of use is currently up for consultation with the planning department; more details can be found here
Depending on the decision and the survey outcome, we hope to be the proud owners of our own building, before the end of the year.
Should our planning application be successful and the purchase proceed, this will probably be the biggest project the Charity has undertaken since it was established in 1972; with a major refurbishment required, we will, as always, be exceedingly grateful for the amazing support of the community as we take the charity to a new level.
It has never been a more exciting time to be a part of our A-team!
Relying totally on charitable donations, grants, and an income from our shop we never charge for our services. We employ just eight, full and part-time, members of staff and rely on the good will of over 60 volunteers to support our clients.
We are constantly striving to offer more than the basic necessities, and should our planning application be successful, we will look to work in partnership with sister organisations, so we can enhance our mentoring, training and outreach support, giving our clients the best opportunity and support to move forward with their lives.
With your continued support, we truly believe we can make a permanent and far reaching impact on the town’s homeless and vulnerable.
As we progress over the coming weeks, we will of course give regular updates on any developments as and when they occur.
The future at this point in time is looking exceedingly bright.