Since The George Café in Newnham closed its doors in April 2018 we’ve been campaigning to buy the building for the village and re-establish it as a community hub. Here’s the story so far.
The George Café in Newnham is owned by Camphill Village Trust (CVT), a nationwide charity providing residential care for adults with special needs. Originally created to help Camphill residents to become genuinely part of the local community, The George was a much-loved and well-used local venue for many years, but gradually fell into decline, mainly as a result of changed priorities within CVT.
In early 2018, CVT announced that it would be closing the café. Worried about the impact on the village, a group of us decided it was time to act. After campaigning successfully for it to be registered as an Asset of Community Value we began to explore the possibility of buying it for the local community. In early 2019 we formed ourselves into a community benefit society (NoSCBS Ltd) and launched a campaign to buy The George and turn it into a multi-purpose social hub.
The Community Share Offer
With support from local people we raised nearly £150,000 in community shares. With additional money from grants, social investment loans and fundraising, and crucially a £250k grant from the government’s Levelling Up fund, we have finally been able to make an offer for the building which has been accepted by CVT.
Over the last four years, our plans have had to be constantly revised and updated. In 2020 we were hit by the Covid pandemic. We have also had to respond to the looming climate crisis and the recent huge spike in energy costs. Throughout that time our essential vision of the George as a welcoming, inclusive space in the heart of the village has not altered.
We still believe that The George can be a successful, sustainable community business, and are now working hard to turn our plans into a reality.
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