Closure of 131 Wood Street

ANNOUNCEMENT

It is with great sadness that the Board of Directors of Significant Seams CIC announce the closure of our ‘Community Living Room’ and shop at 131 Wood Street.

The space was established 4 years ago this June, on the back of £25,000 in cash investment from a combination of sources, and over £55,000 in volunteer labour from the inspiring and talented local community of Eastern Walthamstow. Since, the space has been enabled by over 19,864 hours of recorded volunteer labour, been the headquarters for over 11 community projects, directly supported over 300 vulnerable people, collaborated with at least 64 other local groups and organisations, and as one beneficiary turned volunteer recently put it, become “the random act of kindness in the middle of Wood Street E17.”

While saddened by this course of action, the context in which we, and the amazing team of volunteers and staff, work has become pressurised in untenable ways. Whilst we have, from day 1, sought to build a profitable business that would re-invest its profits into supporting people in vulnerable life moments – and ‘strengthening the seams of community,’ changes in the policy and funding environment have catapulted unsustainable and unfunded numbers of people into vulnerability – and our services at a pace that our business growth has not kept pace with. Whilst we have sought partnership and collaborative working with key organisations in this: our local Clinical Commissioning Group of the NHS, our local council, national and local funders, and other frontline organisations, in reality the pace of change has left all of the partners ill-placed and vulnerable.

Healthy partnership comes from healthy partners – and increasingly there is vulnerability across Waltham Forest’s services.  In the last year in particular, where we have increased our trade income (rather than grants and donations) by more than 200%, we have also seen more ruptures in partner relationships – ruptures that are, sadly, transparently related to competition for ever decreasing resources. Unfortunately, like we have heard from colleagues at other sector organisation’s across Waltham Forest, our grant funding successes have fallen.

We have however secured regional, national and international partners and clients in projects that, whilst not always directly serving individuals, are affecting policy, the training of frontline practitioners and individuals,  and lever the experiences and work we have done in Walthamstow to – in the longer term, “Strengthen the Seams of Community.”

The Board have taken a range of measures to try to pursue and fulfill these (funded) opportunities whilst also maintaining the important activities happening at 131 Wood Street – and we have secured some support – however maintaining the activities there would require significant subsidy from meagre profit margins of social sector work. We simply do not have the needed resources, and have not been able to secure enough support from potential partners in adequate time to enable another year of activity.

As such, 131 Wood Street will close to the public from 25 March 2017. We are in conversations with partners about what activities will continue on an outreach basis.

Thank you to all of you for your interest, support, custom, and participation in the projects we have undertaken over our first 5 years.

Catherine West,  Chief Executive

Written by Diane

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