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Astra Case Study

Who are Astra & what do they do?

ASTRA Community Projects works alongside the Parochial Church Council, the Parish Council, Milton Keynes Council, educational establishments and social groupings to help the village community achieve its aspirations to make Bow Brickhill a pleasant environment for all residents across all ages.

Photos provided courtesy of Andy Dishman 

In what way did you feel you needed support?

The Church Hall (or Mission Hall) as it was originally referred to in 1898 was a much cherished place where for over 120 years history has unfolded. ASTRA was keen to see its survival . 

The Hall was originally funded by public subscription as is the case again more than a century later. The only difference being in 1898 the budget was a little over £230 and today it’s a little over £440,000! The Victorian foundations were a major weakness in the old building, but most of what you saw 12 months ago was a much heavier building put up in the 1950s. This was showing major wear and tear and its shelf life was limited to a few more weeks. The situation was as difficult as that!

A structural survey of the building was undertaken in March 2014 and it strongly concluded that a rebuild was the best way of moving forward. The next six years were spent working up the design, appointing architects and wrestling with the problem of cost. This was an almost identical process as experienced 120 years previously.

In February 2020 with the building almost collapsing and only around £150,000 having been raised the brave decision to build was taken.  My mentor to the project His Grace The Duke of Bedford helped us make that decision. To say we needed support was an understatement in the extreme. Attempting to build a public building during the worst economic climate since the War was frankly insane.

But we achieved it! We have realised a spectacular outcome and built a new Community Hall that exceeds the community’s wildest expectations and for under £1/2million with money raised by the Community in donations and fund raising, Milton Keynes Council in direct grants, The Community Lottery Fund in direct grants, MK Community Foundation and AllChurches Trust.

 

What difference did the grant from MK Community Foundation make?

Astra said: 

"After a huge and determined effort by a number of individuals over many months we have managed to finally secure another £35,000 from Milton Keynes Council adding to their already significant S106 contributions. In the same month again after a huge effort on the part of our grants officer Chris Barrington ASTRA has been successful in securing £22,540.00 from the Margaret Powell Community 1st Fund , MK Council Community Fund and MK Council 2050 Fund.

Despite the above success in order to now fully complete the project, pay off £20,000 in loans, create an exciting educational `children’s garden’  and provide a modicum of internal furnishings, we are now looking to the National Lottery Community Fund to provide a much reduced grant of £65,000 down from £100,000 (detailed below)!  We are hoping to hear from TNL in January!

This work has been supported by funding from MK Council, MK Community Foundation, our Member of Parliament Iain Stewart MP  and our Ward Councillor David Hopkins."

 

“I cannot describe the sort of challenge this project has posed in order to deliver a building of this quality at this cost and during a worldwide pandemic. The support of MK Community Foundation has been invaluable...Ella convinced me that we had to provide an accessible kitchen to support all the other accessible features of our new Community Hall. MK Community Foundation enabled this to happen” 

Alan Preen Chair and Project lead ASTRA Community Projects

“Accessibility these days is so important. As a wheel chair user I can tell you this kitchen is unique across the whole of Milton Keynes, we can’t wait to use it”.

Ella - Friend of ASTRA

 

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