West Essex Mind

Great Dunmow, UK

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A former police station, which is home to local charities and voluntary groups, reopened its doors following West Essex Mind’s purchase and renovation of this historic building.

West Essex Mind (WEM) – affiliated to national charity, Mind – helps people affected by mental ill health to make positive changes in their lives and to improve their emotional resilience and wellbeing.

WEM’s counselling service enables people to discuss mental health difficulties in confidence, and explore ways of resolving the issues they face. And its befriending team supports socially isolated people to reintegrate themselves into the community.

Reducing the stigma associated with mental health is another of the charity’s goals. It delivers training to local people, companies, schools and other groups, to raise awareness of the issue and how to support people showing signs of mental ill health.

West Essex Mind staff take a tea break at the Uttlesford Community Hub


For several years, WEM had leased its current headquarters in Uttlesford. Working alongside co-located charities and community groups, it has helped recreate this former police station as a local hub for voluntary services.

When the charity’s landlord declared its intention to sell this historic building, WEM explored the feasibility of purchasing the property. Robin Strube, director of West Essex Mind explains the drivers for this, “If we could buy the building that’s our home, we would have a stable base to continue growth of the charity’s work and also keep a valued resource available to the community. Our plan was to develop this into a well-being hub, so we can best offer people the help they need”.

To secure the long-term future of this community asset and expand the services offered there, WEM worked with its partners to put forward a proposal to purchase this grade 2 listed building – funded by a £338,000 government grant and a £100,000 mortgage.

Robin explains why WEM approached its existing bank for the mortgage, “We have always received a very, very good service from CAF Bank. What we get is no-nonsense banking. And because it’s run by a charity itself, it makes us feel that we’re working in the same business”.

"When applying for the mortgage, it just felt prudent that we would go with the people we know, the people we respect and the people who look after our money.”

Following completion of the purchase, the building was repaired and renovated for continued use as a community hub, housing six charities and voluntary groups, with a new café and improved disabled access. And as the property’s running costs are covered by rental income from the organisations based there, its future as a community asset is now assured.

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