One in ten locals join Cornwall village bencom

' We’ve got volunteers and supporters pouring into the building already, which is absolutely unreal'

A bencom in south-east Cornwall has opened the doors to its community hub on 19 March, one year to the day after it formed – and has recruited a tenth of the local population into its membership.

The Peninsula Trust, formed by a group of locals on the Rame Peninsula on 19 March 2014, celebrated its first anniversary by opening the Rame Centre in Millbrook village.

The trust has 350 members – 10% of the area’s population – and raised £24,400 from a community share issue launched in September 2014.

It used this money, combined with loans from Co-operative & Community Finance and the Co-operative Loan Fund, to buy a large semi-derelict building in Millbrook village which was renovated into the new centre.

Simon Ryan, founder of the Peninsula Trust, said: “This project has been so fast-paced and people are really excited about it. We’ve got volunteers and supporters pouring into the building already, which is absolutely unreal. The loans we received from The Co-operative Loan Fund and Co-operative & Community Finance have helped us to create a fully sustainable community hub which will last long term.”

The new hub marks the beginning of an ambitious drive for community development and engagement. It will be home to community services including the local credit union, council-led IT courses, citizens’ advice, a retail space and a food bank.

The yard at the rear of the property will house a new Peninsula Trust initiative, ‘Made in Rame’ – a collection of work units which will be rented to small, local craft businesses. Extra income will be generated through the rental of two flats in the upper floor of the building.

Co-operative & Community Finance loan adviser Ian Taylor attended the opening to cut the ribbon with Val Gregory, one of the trust’s first community investors.

He said: “We’re delighted to support this innovative and highly energetic community resource. Millbrook Village and the surrounding areas will benefit greatly from the opening of the new centre, as well as the trust’s future projects.”

The local community has taken loans from Co-operative & Community Finance for two other recent projects. In 2012 a disused bank building was bought and refurbished for a local development trust and in 2013 a new pontoon was installed for the fishermen’s organisation.

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