MANAGERS of a Sutherland health and well-being centre have had to put plans for a £194,000 redevelopment on hold after an application for key funding was rejected.
The Bradbury Centre‘s request for £90,000 from SSE Highland Sustainable Development Fund has been turned down.
Had the application been granted, it would have unlocked match funding from other fund-givers and enabled the project to go ahead.
Centre manager Lorraine Askew said: "It is a huge blow and we are all very disappointed. We were very hopeful and had confidence that the application would be approved.
Now other avenues by which to raise the money are being considered, including crowd funding.
A registered charity, The Bradbury Centre, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, is located in Bonar Bridge and run by a nine-strong board of directors.
It offers day care and other services four days a week to those aged over 60 and younger people with learning disabilities.
Users are picked up by the centre’s 16-seater mini-bus and have breakfast at the centre as well as lunch.
A range of activities are on offer from arts and crafts to gardening, memory games, board games and chair based exercise. Personal care is available to those clients who require assistance.
The unit costs around £109,000 a year to run, with around half this amount met by NHS Highland and the remainder having to be found through fundraising.
The centre is currently operating at capacity and its six-strong team of staff, helped by volunteers, cater for an average of 25 clients a day from as far afield as Tain, Lairg, Rosehall, Edderton, Embo and Dornoch.
Mrs Askew said: "We have got a waiting list and are having to turn people away. Which we hate doing because those who apply for a place are in desperate need."
Without this facility a much greater strain would be placed upon an already stretched NHS and would be detrimental to the wellbeing of the community.
The board of directors decided last year to extend the centre which would enable it to offer an extra five places per day.
SSE’s Achany windfarm community benefit fund and E.oN’s Rosehall community fund granted a total of £4900 for the design stage of the project.
Plans have since been drawn up to extend the unit’s multi-purpose room by three metres, thus creating a much needed dining area. A new office and toilet have also been included.
Mrs Askew said: "We have a main room which is used for everything and that is where the problem lies. Everyone has to be moved to allow us to set up for lunch – and that is no mean feat when you have people in wheelchairs and with mobility aids."
Hopes were high that a start would be made soon on the scheme but that has been scuppered by the rejection of the centre’s application to SSE Sustainable Fund.
Mrs Askew said: "SSE said it was oversubscribed but we think it is because they would prefer go give funds to new ventures which will create employment, whereas we are already up and running, although we would have had to take on extra staff.
"We are determined to try and find the funding we need from somewhere and we are now thinking about crowdfunding. We only need an initial £90,000 as the Robertson Trust has agreed to put our application on hold.