A Rotorua charitable trust which helps residents with disabilities to lead good lives is set to receive $200,000 from BayTrust to help upgrade its Devon St premises.
St Chads Communication Centre Trust is one of four successful applicants in BayTrust's inaugural Community Amenities funding round which is designed to support building or upgrading community and environmental assets across the region.
St Chads works with almost 70 people to help them develop life skills, independence, and participate in the community. Many of their activities take place in everyday locations around the city but their "learning skills hub" on Devon St is no longer fit for purpose.
St Chads centre manager Nicky Mayne said the former church was built in 1925 and additional rooms were added in the 1980s.
"None of it is insulated, it's all single glazing, and certain areas are not accessible for wheelchairs. There are also too many entrances and exits so it's hard to know who's coming and going so we want to improve that safety aspect for our clients."
The renovation will cost a total of $574,000 and is due to begin in late 2019.
BayTrust's grant is the first major step towards raising the funds required and St Chads is in early discussions with other community funders.
Mayne said they felt very privileged.
"This is a big chunk of the funding we need to get started and we really appreciate BayTrust's ongoing support. We want to face the future knowing that we're becoming more sustainable and less reliant on philanthropic grants long term.
"We want to maximise the assets we have, like our building, so we can become more financially sustainable."
A renovated hub will be more appropriate for the needs of St Chads' clients and will also help support future social enterprise initiatives.
"We also want the community to be able to visit our gallery and join us for classes and events alongside people with disabilities. We want this building to become a community facility everyone can enjoy."
A total of 43 possible projects were considered by BayTrust after applications were called for earlier this year. These were narrowed down to four which best fitted with BayTrust's "outcome areas" and overall vision of ensuring the Bay of Plenty is the greatest place to be.
BayTrust chief executive Alastair Rhodes said trustees wanted to help St Chads become a strong and sustainable organisation so it can continue its work for many years to come.
"The community connections they build and the life skills they teach their clients are invaluable. Having a building that's warm, safe, accessible and fit for purpose is a crucial way in which we can support them and their future aspirations."
Rhodes said the Community Amenities Fund was designed to grant between $100,000 - $500,000 to capital projects that deliver new permanent facilities, or upgrade and preserve existing community and environmental assets.
"We have set aside $1.25m annually for the new Community Amenities Fund and are looking to support intergenerational community and environmental assets that make a real difference in people's lives."