Stratford Community House – a changemaker story

About This Project

Stratford Community House was a collaborative initiative originally led by The Bishop’s Action Foundation working with Stratford District Council and a group of changemakers in Stratford who had identified that a community house would support more sustainable community services for the district.   Founding trustee and local changemaker, Mary Garlick, commented that:

“Before the Community House, people in our town didn’t always have access to services. Without rooms for counsellors, advisors, MPS and community groups to work out of, there weren’t always the services in the town. Not everyone has a car or can easily travel to another town to access services, the Community House brought these services to the community, and our community benefits as a result.”

The Foundation managed a large number of participating organisations and facilitated progress towards a range of key milestones:

  • Establishing the need through scoping research and the development of a viable business case
  • Community consultation to ensure the project had a wide community mandate,
  • Seeking and then managing various funding agreements,
  • A Lease Agreement for the Land which was gifted by the Anglican Church,
  • The Implementation of the project to the end of the House build and set up,
  • The set-up and management of the initial tenancies,
  • Developing a Charitable Trust to continue to oversee the House into the future.

Ultimately the role of the Foundation was to manage and balance the needs of the various stakeholders and enable their participation in the project without over compromising the needs of any one stakeholder group.  The layer of stakeholders was three-fold:

  • Primary stakeholders – Landowner Taranaki Anglican Trust Board, Local Anglican Parish of Stratford, District Council and Mayor;
  • Funders – Diocese of Waikato, Taranaki Electricity Trust, Department of Internal Affairs, TSB Community Trust;
  • User Groups – 20 community and voluntary organisations who signed letters of intention of use for the building

In addition to this, the Foundation supported the creation of a new Charitable Trust to guide the community house into the future and ensure its sustainability.  Once the house was up and running and financially stable, the role of the Foundation reduced until the Trust were managing the Community House independently.

Current District Mayor, Neil Volzke, who was also one of the founding trustees, says he is delighted to have been involved since the start.

“When the concept of the Community House was first floated we knew there was a demand for this type of facility. The high use now confirms we were right. The people involved over the years have made this a hugely successful community service.”

Our Impact