Charity in race against time to find extra funds

JULIE Plumley at the Future Roots project

DORCHESTER’S Future Roots project is making a desperate plea for financial backing to keep it open.

The centre, at Frome Whitfield, on the Bradford Peverell road, has been running community projects since taking over the former NHS unit three years ago – but now has to find the money to buy the site, or face closure.

Organisers are hopeful of a Lottery grant – but now need to show that the community wants to keep the centre running.

“We don’t need people’s money at this stage – but need to show the Lottery that individuals and organisations are prepared to make pledges so that we can prove there is support,” said founder Julie Plumley, a former social worker.

The four-acre centre has been used for a number of projects including those with learning disabilities, pre-school youngsters, disaffected teens, and older people. It currently provides a home for the Dorchester Men’s Shed project and for meeting of the Countrymen’s Club.

Arts and crafts sessions are also run at the centre and volunteers make use of the greenhouses and other areas for horticultural projects.

The centre has been offered to Future Roots by the NHS in a closed sale for £175,000 – the plot is likely to be worth much more on the open market, but NHS bosses have been impressed by the community work carried out over the past two years and would like to keep it going. Future Roots has already raised £10,000 towards the cost – but needs much more, ideally pledges for around £50,000 in total.

Part of the problem has been caused by the short timescale. By the time official notification was received Future Roots only had a little over three months to work out how they were going to find the money.

“It was originally going to be the end of March, but the Lottery could see the problems, and have now extended the deadline until the end of April.

“We have been looking at applying for a number of small charitable bids but each takes a long time to prepare and the decisions are usually six to eight weeks down the line, so we are running out of time for that route,” said Julie.

The centre was the recipient of cash help from the Lions last year and there is hope that other service clubs, such as Rotary and the Round Table, could offer support this year.

Ms Plumley says the centre organisers are confident of being able to make the project sustainable, in time. She points out that its sister operation, at Rylands Farm near Sherborne, has been running for ten years now and manages to raise around 80 per cent of its income.

“We are up against it, but with local support hope to keep the centre open. While we’re drawing breath we will continue to fight,” said Julie.

Pledges of support can be sent to the centre directly, or via the website – or by telephone to 01963 210703.