In March 2021, the Venturesome Investment and Grant Committees approved a blended finance social investment of £100,000 to Alternatives Activity Centre (AAC) made up of a £75,000 unsecured loan and a £25,000 grant.  The social investment is to help AAC buy their first property to be used as a training centre to improve independent living skills (in particular household and cooking skills) for young people transitioning from Children’s to Adult services.

We have been able to make grants alongside our loans thanks to a grant from Access – the Foundation for Social Investment.

About Alternatives Activity Centre

Established in 1990, Alternatives Activity Centre (AAC) is a registered charity that provides support for adults with learning disabilities in the city of Derby, in the form of an activity-based day centre, a training shop (which offers training workshops as well placements within their own charity shop) and community support.

Their day centre and training shop are staffed by a team of mostly part time employees
as well as volunteers and students. Support for their beneficiaries focuses on developing their self-esteem and confidence, independence skills, employability skills, creativity skills, as well as promoting healthier lifestyles.

Before the pandemic AAC generated 98% of its income from trading income. The pandemic greatly affected their ability to trade with a significant loss of income. AAC was only able to welcome15 services users at their day and training centres, compared to 50 people before March 2020.

Adapting to meet the challenges posed by the pandemic

AAC quickly adapted by furloughing staff, securing additional grants, and developing alternative online income streams, to palliate for lost income, ending 2020 generating a small surplus due to cost cuts.  

Through Covid-19, they made sure to continue supporting their beneficiaries through weekly activity packs, telephone calls to both the individuals they support and their families/carers, Zoom meetings and quizzes, garden/doorstep visits, exercise outdoors and occasional shopping and medicine collecting.

Even before the pandemic their existing training centre was operating at full capacity and with social distancing the need for a new training venue became further exacerbated. AAC identified a property near to their training/charity shop just outside Derby city centre for £100,000 including fees.

This property will be used to improve independent living skills (in particular household and cooking skills) particularly relevant to young people transitioning from Children’s to Adult services, develop training skills and create additional storage space.  By increasing space and storage capacity, AAC will be able to support a further 8-10 people. Demand for their service is likely to remain strong, as the people they support have lifelong need and some charities in the area offering similar services have not survived the pandemic.

We’re delighted to be able to support AAC at this time as their services are essential to the well-being of very vulnerable people.   They have strong support within their community, being supported with donations, materials and in-kind donations.  The acquisition of this property will increase AAC social impact, increasing capacity to welcome people safely back and introducing them to new practical training.

AAC completed the purchase and picked up the keys in June and we’re delighted to share some photos of it being used on day one to make lunch!

Alternatives Activity Centre beneficiary

“This is going to be the beginning of an important and exciting journey for us and all of those who use our services now or in the future. We could not have got to this stage without the support of CAF Venturesome and as such will always be incredibly thankful for your help.”

Belinda Hadfield - Service Manager, Alternatives Activity Centre

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