Old bank becomes community business hub

A social enterprise in south east Cornwall is moving forward with plans to renovate an old bank to create an enterprise hub, after receiving a loan from Co-operative & Community Finance.

Point Europa, a membership organisation with charitable status, provides job advice, training, and support in the isolated rural areas of the Rame Peninsula, including the villages of Kingsand and Cawsand. The organisation, which was founded in 2004, identified the need in the local area for affordable office space and community facilities.

In March the purchase of an old Barclays bank in the village of Millbrook was completed. Building work to renovate the dilapidated premises begins in June and will continue until September. A grand opening has been set for October.

The plan is to develop more trading arms and income and reduce reliance on grants. Co-operative & Community Finance had previously provided loan finance to help Point Europa improve support for community organisations and so was delighted to assist with this next stage of development.

Simon Ryan, CEO of Point Europa, said: “Co-operative & Community Finance has given us the opportunity to turn our organisation around. With the purchase of this asset we have the strength to provide more services to our local community.”

The new building will provide space for new enterprises and start up businesses, a community meeting point, and a large retail area for a charity shop. They aim to create an economic hub for new business and will offer easy lease conditions to stimulate growth.

Point Europa currently has a membership of 70, employs a core staff of nine, and works with about 24 volunteers covering various projects and areas. In the future they hope to open a credit union in the bank premises.

Ian Taylor of Co-operative & Community Finance said: “The Rame Peninsula is an area of high unemployment with little industry and few formal vacancies. Point Europa is tackling this issue in an innovative and inspiring way. They have a very entrepreneurial approach to creating employment and are backed by fantastic community support and a great team.”