Apparently in Sussex we have some of the greatest supporters and fundraisers for the excellent St John Ambulance charity in the whole country. It seemed odd therefore that when St John recently announced that they were to close 117 of their 352 buildings nationally due to financial losses caused by COVID that the list should include Southwick and Shoreham.
The building in Shoreham is problematic as it is not owned by the charity and is in a poor state of repair and other premises will need to be found to rent. However, the Southwick hall in The Twitten is widely used and actually brings in more revenue from renting out for other activities than it costs to run. I therefore arranged a meeting with the national and local St John managers recently together with representatives from the Council as a result of which they have taken Southwick off the closure list.
The catch is that there is a potential bill for £25,000 to fix the roof and given the state of the charity’s finances nationally they are unable to cover it. Fortunately, a local donor has offered matched funding of £10,000 meaning we have to find up to £15,000 locally and we have a year to do it. Who is up for the challenge? I am putting together a small team of volunteers with the local St John officers so please let me know if you are able to help out or would like to contribute.
Great news that Ropetackle has been awarded almost £57,000 from the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund to help the arts centre through the pandemic. We know how live arts venues have been hit hardest of all with little sign of being able to ease things anytime soon and Ropetackle has only been sheltered to an extent because of the reliance on the impressive army of volunteers. Great news also that this year’s (socially distanced) pantomime is back on too – oh yes, it is!
Fortunately all of Sussex is in the lowest ‘medium risk’ tier for Coronavirus in the new system announced by the Government but we know just how quickly things can turn around. Past experience tells us that the infection figures we are seeing now will filter through to hospital admissions and sadly fatalities in 2 to 3 weeks’ time so let’s do everything we can to observe the rules and make sure we do not go the same lockdown route as cities like Liverpool and Nottingham. Full details are on my website and Facebook pages.
I am holding a scheduled surgery in Southwick this Friday so please ring the Shoreham office f you would like an appointment otherwise I will be back on the streets with local councillors at the Lancing street surgery on Saturday from 10am.