Folkestone Sports Centre Trust is a social enterprise, working to make sports and leisure activities available to all.
When its centre needed updating, a Charity Bank loan was used to complete the first phase of a major renovation and helped to attract funding for the project’s next phase.
There can be many barriers to engagement in community sports and leisure activities, these range from prohibited cost to a lack of suitable childcare or transport to physical barriers and social confidence.
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. Over time, the centre has evolved to keep up with the changing needs of the community, who are regularly consulted. This includes an added emphasis on serving those who suffer from learning or physical disabilities.
Folkestone Sports Centre Trust has been supported in its expansion and development by two loans from Charity Bank. The latest phase of long-term renovation plans 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.
The number of monthly visitors has grown from 21,000 to 38,000 as a result of the centre’s expansion and development and 9,000 of these visitors are accessing specialised health and wellbeing activities.
“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 47-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.”Tessa Stickler, General Manager of Folkestone Sports Centre Trust