Letchworth Settlement saved from closure at eleventh hour

PUBLISHED: 09:20 05 August 2020 | UPDATED: 09:51 05 August 2020

The Letchworth Settlement Grade II listed building on Nevells Road.

The Letchworth Settlement Grade II listed building on Nevells Road.

Archant

The historic Letchworth Settlement has been saved from imminent closure thanks to an overwhelming response to its crowdfunding appeal, it emerged last week.

In June, supporters and members were told that the 100-year-old Letchworth independent adult education centre “would be shut down with effect on July 31” due in part to funding shortfalls brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

In an extraordinary turnaround however, an emergency funding appeal has reversed the fortunes of the Settlement, with the board of trustees now able to see a pathway to full reopening.

Settlement chair Hilary Kemp said: “Thanks to the generosity of our supporters, we’ve had a fantastic response to the appeal to save the Settlement. We’re pleased to announce that through the pledges of money and time from so many of you, we now feel confident the centre can reopen in the next couple of months.

“Once we’re open, we’re looking forward to offering a varied programme of high quality courses. The opening will be staggered and we will communicate more about this in due course. We also plan to offer our facilities for hire to Letchworth community.

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“We’re lucky to have inherited not just a historic building but an educational institution with a proud reputation and a passionate group of supporters – a testament to the hard work and vision of the staff and trustees who have run it successfully for so many years.”

The Settlement is far from being in a “position of safety” however, with the board yet to be confident the institution can withstand many months of socially-distanced classes and restricted activity.

“We may be ‘back in business’ but we will be some way from back to normal,” Hilary added. “We will be calling on many more generous offers to help us explore new ideas for how the Settlement can adapt and serve even more of the local community in the future.”

A new interim committee has been formed who are working closely with experienced Settlement staff to formulate a reopening plan.

“There is still a lot of work to be done before the Settlement can reopen, not least because of the new public health and building safety requirements for COVID-19,” Hilary said.

“As soon as we have dates and details we will share these with you. We look forward to welcoming you back to this unique Letchworth institution.”


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