Whaley Bridge charity's bid to buy building

A Whaley Bridge charity is trying to raise the funds it needs to buy the building it has called home for the last 20 years.

Monday, 4th July 2022, 11:27 am

Footsteps on Market Street was set up in 2002 in a former shoe shop.

Now the landlord who owns the building wants to sell it so the charity is facing a race against time to raise the cash needed to buy the premises.

Martin Thomas, chair of the community trust, said: “In the past 20 years we have done so much to support other people and their good work and we have now found ourselves in a position where we need to be asking for help."

Whaley Bridge Footsteps, Martin Thomas with shop manager Anne Leyland and volunteer Adele Moores

In those early days facilities were a little bit basic, said Martin, but a grant from the Countryside Agency and later a community grant from the Big Lottery Fund finished the conversion in style.

Footsteps has now become a hub and a meeting place for local churches, community groups and there is now a cafe and bookshop there too.

The charity has paid a £15,000 non-refundable deposit to secure the purchase and has been granted the offer of a £130,000 mortgage loan by the Charity Bank. But in order to complete the deal Footsteps are now fundraising to pay the £5,000 left to complete the sale.

Martin said: “We will use the donations to close our funding gap of £5,000 and to provide a further £5,000 to cover increased costs while we transform the charity to run as owner-occupier rather than under lease.”

Whaley Bridge Footsteps, Martin Thomas with shop manager Anne Leyland

The charity, which has no paid staff but opens six days a week thanks to the support of volunteers, welcomes visitors and residents to the space.

"We also work closely with Peak School,” said Martin.

“The students come in here and it is a nice space for them to get a drink and socialise.

"We have become this wonderful vibrant place at the heart of Whaley Bridge and we would love to continue to be here for years to come.

“Our plans for the future include restarting a local history group, the return of our opening hours to those pre-Covid and to develop a range of other activity and support classes.”

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