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£500,000 improves ‘vital’ almshouses

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: March 15, 2014

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TRUSTEES behind a project that helps house people facing a range of difficulties have revealed that it has undertaken a £500,000 upgrade programme.

Abbots Bromley Hospital, in Bagot Street, Abbots Bromley, has undergone a major transformation to spruce up a series of almshouses that it runs to help support men and women in reduced circumstances.

The work was paid for via a mixture of reserves cash, grants and loans and has now been completed after the help of a cash boost from Charity Bank.

The bank was set up to take savings from socially conscious individuals and lend solely to social purpose organisations and to increase the positive social impact its borrowers can make.

Mithra Tonking, chairman of the Abbots Bromley Hospital Trustees, said: “We doubt if a traditional bank would have been able to provide either the loan or the bridging facility because they just aren’t geared up to comprehend this very specialised housing sector.”

The almshouse accommodation was in considerable need of modernisation and the trustees decided to extend and modernise the existing listed building to create four one-bed room units and two two-bed homes.

Proposed work included the creation of additional space, damp-proofing, replastering, insulation, new kitchens and bathrooms, the installation of central heating, and extensive redecoration.

The total cost of the project was calculated to be more than £500,000.

The Almshouse Trustees were able to fund almost £200,000 from reserves and were offered grants of £140,000.

The Almshouse Association also approved a £50,000 loan.

This, however, left a shortfall of more than £118,000.

In addition, the Homes & Communities Agency (HCA) grant of £120,000 was payable only after completion of the refurbishment, and so Abbots Bromley Hospital also needed to cover additional refurbishment costs to that value in the short-term.

This meant that trustees for the almshouses approached Charity Bank to help get a loan to pay for the final amount. SCC Developments completed the refurbishment.

THE Abbots Bromley Hospital was built in 1705 in Abbots Bromley with a bequest by landowner Lambard Bagot.

Originally, the six residents were elderly men.

They were given a quarterly allowance and, every two years, a new coat, supposedly with LB embroidered on the pocket.

The almshouses, which are Grade II listed, continue to support men and women in reduced circumstances, with a focus on helping those with a connection to Abbots Bromley.

Mike Lewis, vice-chairman of the Abbots Bromley Hospital Trustees, said: “People often think of almshouses as being part of history but there are still 1,700 almshouse charities providing housing in the UK

“Our houses are an example of how Abbots Bromley supports local people, so it was important that we modernised them.”

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