Coexist awarded £94K towards campaign for buying Hamilton House
It took most of us a week or so to get our heads back into work mode after the shenanigans/hangovers/lurgies of Christmas and New Year, but a couple of weeks into January, and we’re already fully geared up for a very busy period. Much of the team is now focused on one thing: how to ensure the survival of Hamilton House as a project.
Tuesday evening saw the first of our Action Group meetings on the potential sale of the building since last month’s AGM. More than 50 people crowded into our Conference Space, in an open forum designed to keep everyone updated, and to provide a space to share ideas on moving forward.
So what’s been happening?
Well, first off, Coexist has been awarded £94K from the Big Potential Fund! The funding comes from a body which supports voluntary sector organisations and social enterprises to seek out social investment.
What will that money go towards? From the end of January, we’ll be embarking on a 12-month project to become investment-ready by refining our business strategy, with an emphasis on the social value created by our project. Alongside our day-to-day work, the team will be forming groups to focus on key areas including governance, finance and media/PR. This is part of our commitment to explore the possibility of a community share offer.
We’ve also been shortlisting other buildings around Bristol that might make a suitable home. But given the fact that even derelict buildings in Bristol are selling for way above their market value, we’re conscious that this might not be a viable option.
Another key avenue we are exploring is partnering with a developer, in order to turn part of the building into housing, without compromising the values and ethos of the project. A member of architect firm White Design, who have their offices next to ours and specialise in sustainable building design, explained how they and Coexist are working together to explore the financial and practical implications of making this happen.
In the second half of the meeting we had the chance to share ideas, voice concerns and put forward ideas for how the project could be reimagined and transformed.
These included the creation of social/co-operative housing units; a proposal for low-impact housing using straw-bale construction methods; forming a land trust with other community organisations in Stokes Croft and retro-fitting the building to bring energy costs down.
What the meeting showed was that rather than getting overwhelmed by the process and the amounts of money involved, it has actually galvanised us into a storm of creative, out-the-box thing and radical imagining for how we might be able to expand the scope of the project and deepen our work in the communities around us.
If you want to stay informed about what’s happening, there are a couple of things you can do:
Join our Facebook Community Group page.
Come down to Dmac’s 7th Anniversary Party event this weekend.
Sign up to our e-newsletter, to be kept up to date with the latest news and events. You can also drop us an email on email@example.com.