Charity hopeful of raising £65,000 it needs to buy its Hawick home

A Borders brain injury charity believes it is close to securing the money it needs to ensure it doesn't get kicked out of its Hawick headquarters.

Friday, 28th December 2018, 8:03 am
Updated Saturday, 29th December 2018, 6:20 pm
Steven Turnbull at the Heads Together charity's headquarters in Hawick.

Heads Together was told it needed to raise £65,000 by the end of this year to buy its base at Dovemount Place in Hawick after its landlord gave notice of plans to sell up.

However, thanks to the fundraising efforts of the charity’s management and volunteers, it is now within reach of its target and has even been given a three-month extension on the original deadline of Monday next week.

At this month’s meeting of Hawick’s common good fund sub-committee, charity chairman Steven Turnbull explained the current situation, saying: “We’ve actually done quite well recently.

“Where we sit at the moment is that we’re £13,000 short of buying the premises, so we’re getting close.

“Obviously, we’re desperate to buy the place, and we’re hoping to get some help from yourselves.

“We’ve received a lot from smaller organisations. I wrote to a lot of places and got quite a lot of responses.

“We got lots of £5,000s and £2,000s, and it’s all added up.

“We’ve also gotten an extension to the time limit, so we have another three months to raise the money.

“We’re quite hopeful we’re going to do this.”

The charity was originally given a December deadline after being notified by its landlord that the building was up for sale, but it now has until March to come up with the money needed.

The charity was forced to go back to the drawing board in October after having an offer of a £35,000 National Lottery grant withdrawn, but it has now cut that shortfall by more than half.

Hawick and Denholm councillor Stuart Marshall congratulated the charity on how far it had come, saying: “This is fantastic.

“You’ve come a long way since we last spoke. I think we should keep this open and see where Heads Together are after Christmas.

“I’ve always said that, as a last resort, we should definitely try and help.”

The charity aims to give people with brain injuries a better life and organises arts and crafts activities, day trips and speech therapy for users.

Its Dovemount Place headquarters has also been made disability-friendly, and the prospect of moving away from the building could have a detrimental effect on service users with considerable brain damage, it fears.

The majority of Heads Together’s service users, all suffering various degrees of brain injury, are from Hawick and Galashiels, and Mr Turnbull says he is worried about the unsettling impact that the charity, founded in 2010, moving to a new base might have on them.

“They feel secure here. That’s why we want to stay,” he said.

Although supportive of the scheme, Hawick and Hermitage councillor Davie Paterson sought assurances that any public money the charity receives could be returned in the event of a downturn in its fortunes, saying: “I do hope this a great success and you raise a lot of money, but what if the common good fund gives you some money, and then at a later date you fall on hard times. Would some of that money come back to us?”

Council officers assured councillors that if and when the common good fund committee decides to give money to Heads Together, it can apply conditions enabling the fund to recover any potential losses.

The Hawick councillors sitting on the committee agreed to wait until the new year to decide on what level of funding they can offer, and they have invited Mr Turnbull to rejoin them in a few weeks’ time to discuss matters further.