With just 3 weeks left of our temporary tenancy at the Cromer Mill on Hilton Fold Lane the Lighthouse Project is still fighting to secure a base of operation as it is uncertain where we will be able to go next. We have made extensive searches and even walked around the streets looking for potential sites but suitable premises in the town are few and far between; there is just no decent property stock for new ventures.
We have asked our current owners for an extension of time, but so far this has not been granted, and it feels just like when we were told to leave the Warwick Mill… ‘Here we go again’!
At the time of our first notice to leave the Warwick in August 2015 we were promised lots of help and support from the off-shore owners of the mill, LED Emporium/G-Suite Holdings, and various people at Rochdale Council, but none of this really materialised into anything more than help to look and good wishes.
Our plight this time seems equally to be falling on deaf ears in official quarters, and with no prospect of alternative accommodation in sight the immediate future looks particularly uncertain.
The potential promise of a few hundred jobs at the ‘Red Warwick’ sometime in the future is fine, but we are right here, right now, helping people on a daily basis to get back into work and improve their lives, keeping them healthy and helping them feel less isolated, but no-one seems to value this.
This is a travesty in the making and we’d really encourage people to contact their local ward councillors and MP Liz McInnes to let them know why it is so important to support the Lighthouse Project to find a permanent home.
Heywood Middleton & Rochdale Clinical Commissioning Group is looking for a similar building to ourselves to create a ‘community hub’ for the town where they can combine heath and community services together. We already have much of this up and running and in place so we have approached them with a suggestion of joint working but this has so far been turned down.
Working with other community groups however has been a much better experience and during our time on the Cromer Estate we have seen a great deal of growth in our work, and we have been able to form new relationships with an increasing number of groups and organisations who are excited by what we do and want to work with us and make use of our premises.
This is where our current situation really gripes in knowing that in a few weeks’ time, miracles aside, all this could be in jeopardy if we have no building from which we can operate.
Our new patron Steve Coogan came to visit us last week and he was very impressed by what he has seen and the people he has met. The Lighthouse Project is something that he is keen to support and promote.
We believe his involvement will open doors for us that have previously been closed and because of his contribution we trust that more people will become aware of what we do and want to help us develop and make a real difference in this community, and others beyond Middleton.