Over 100 years ago, local residents united together and raised money to build the Southwold and District Hospital to care for all people. This was at a time when the majority of the population were farm workers, fishermen, and artisans; average life expectancy was 40 years old.
When the NHS called for a consultation on the future of the hospital, the community saw the writing on the wall – sale to the highest bidder, demolition of an iconic civic building, and redevelopment as luxury housing. The fact that this did not happen is a tribute to the fighting community spirit of Southwold and Reydon. Now, through investment in the Old Hospital Fund, the community will regain ownership of this iconic building.
SouthGen was created out of a crisis – the closure of the hospital and the threat of the historic building being both demolished and redeveloped. At the same time, the popular local library looked set to be forced to close as its lease was coming to an end and a new home couldn’t be found.
SouthGen is now turning this crisis into an opportunity, and as well as providing much-needed services to the community, the project will provide affordable housing too.
SouthGen’s geographic area reflects the catchment area of the former Southwold and District hospital, which cared for patients living within a 13-mile radius of Southwold. SouthGen’s Society Rules describe its charitable objectives which include:
- Providing affordable work space, buildings and land to create jobs and training
- Advancing education and training opportunities, particularly for the unemployed
- Providing, maintaining and improving public amenities including childcare
- Providing an inclusive space for community association and social welfare
- Preserving buildings or sites of historic or architectural importance
- Providing nine affordable dwellings and a community hub
For the community of Southwold, SouthGen project will:
- Retain a library for future generations offering expanded educational, cultural and social opportunities for all ages
- Help meet the needs of young families by creating a nursery
- Provide a co-working space with up to 30 desks, superfast broadband, high spec meeting rooms, plus mentoring and support to revitalise the local economy
- Create a welcoming, inclusive social space with simple, tasty, healthy food, where young people can be trained, and which will also support local supply chains
- Providing a place to meet, eat, work and live as well as training and providing educational opportunities
As well as being members of Plunkett Foundation, SouthGen have also received 2 days of action planning support and used Model Rules from Plunkett Foundation. Plunkett were also proud to support SouthGen with the official launch of their share offer in May 2019. There is also a close working relationship with SouthGen and Hastoe Housing Association, who are a key partner for Plunkett Foundation.
Hear the back story of SouthGen and why they were raising the funds to buy back the hospital and create a community hub and housing project for the local community: