Oatlands Pre-school is a Harrogate-based not-for-profit pre-school that offers care and education to children aged 2 to 4. The charity received a Charity Bank loan to help it purchase and refurbish its building.
Committee Chair Geri Payne discusses the opportunities that the charity was able to seize thanks to this loan and the security of tenure it afforded.
“We’re celebrating our 50th anniversary this year at Oatlands Pre-school and we’ve come a long way since our beginnings as a small playgroup set up by local parents and carers. One of only a handful of charity pre-schools in Yorkshire, we are run by volunteers from the community for the community. Any profit made, is channeled back into the charity.
“As a pre-school, our primary objective is to create a safe and nurturing environment for children to learn and play. We aim to create a home away from home, where children can express themselves and are supported to develop. A lot of our parents say that we feel like a family. This caring, community-focused approach is present in everything we do.
“Ever since our beginnings, we have operated out of the same local church building, gradually taking over more space as we expanded. When the church ceased worshipping, and was put up for sale, we began the process of raising funds. Thanks to community fundraising and a grant from North Yorkshire County Council, we were in a good position to take out a loan from Charity Bank.
“Owning our property provides us with greater security and gives us opportunities for development. By splitting out the old church hall and the pre-school, we created an entirely separate community centre. This provides a sustainable income for the charity whilst also benefitting local people. We have a large elderly population locally and social isolation is becoming an increasing problem. With the community centre, we have taken positive steps towards addressing this, providing a hub for all the community.
“We have found Charity Bank a lot easier to deal with than our usual high street lender. Their people understand our structure, the way we operate, and provide us with a personal service. We have consistent communication with them, an actual named contact we know we can get in touch with at any time, and someone has even been to visit, meet us and see what we do in person.
“At a time when many charity pre-schools are having to close, this social investment from Charity Bank has allowed us to take advantage of a variety of opportunities to strengthen our charity and support the wider community. It’s also wonderful to know we are not the only ones benefitting from Charity Bank and that our repayments are going towards helping other communities across the UK.”