“Folkestone Sports Centre was set up by local members of the community, officially opening its doors in 1972. The ethos was, and still is to this day, to provide affordable sports and leisure facilities to everyone. I don’t think anyone could have imagined the impact it would have on the community. Since opening, the centre has been used by several generations of the same families and become an integral part of their lives.
“Over time, the centre has evolved to keep up with the changing needs of the community, who we often consult with. Being the only multi-sports facility in the district of Shepway, it’s important for us to be able to adapt to those needs. The first phase of a long-term renovation plan has seen a lift put in to the three-storey building, a sensory room installed, hoists and sensory lights added to the swimming pool, and the introduction of many inclusive sports and activities.
“We’ve also developed a range of new programmes and services, both within the centre and in the community, to extend our reach and impact. The centre now offers apprenticeship and training schemes for local young people and works with many other organisations, such as MIND, to increase the health and wellbeing of all members of the community.
“We’d been looking for a lender to support our redevelopment for years when I came across Charity Bank, who saw our potential and gave its full support. Without it, the major regeneration of this tired 45-year old building would not have gone ahead, and it would have most likely ended with closure. As we are a non-profit organisation, reinvesting any small surplus we make, commercial lenders weren’t prepared to step in.
“It’s been so amazing and refreshing working with Charity Bank and we’ve built up a great relationship with the team. None of what we’ve achieved would have been possible without Charity Bank. It was their initial investment in us that led to other grants and loans becoming available so that we could continue to grow.
“For the third sector, it is essential that there are people who are forward thinking enough to invest with social lenders to support this vital work helping the disadvantaged of the community. We are hugely grateful to those who save and invest with Charity Bank. For us, this ethical investment meant the difference between enabling our charity to move forwards and continue to provide affordable services for the community or potentially closing our doors.”
Folkestone Sports Centre Trust is just one of 38 Follow the Money visits. Explore further Follow the Money visits and see how Charity Bank savers' money is used for good.
See the previous Follow the Money visit – Half Moon Young People's Theatre, and our next visit - Parchment Trust.