Change looms for historic Sidmouth charity

15:42 17 March 2014

(c) Adam Gault

RED tape has left a 733-year-old good cause, which helps the needy in Sidmouth, at risk of falling foul of the Charity Commission.

Sidmouth Consolidated Charities has been advised to change the wording of its deeds and seek public feedback over a matter related to the sale of a former asset in 2009.

Bedsit or flat accommodation with a hot lunch had been provided at Culver House, but it was decided the money being invested would be better spent elsewhere as demand for this type of accommodation had dwindled.

The Vicarage Road premises were sold to care provider Abbeyfield and the proceeds have been used to carry on benefiting those who need help. Trustees now want to make official the fact that the charity will no longer provide a physical almshouse amenity for the over 60s.

Charity Commission rules advise a change to the wording of the Sidmouth cause’s policy of care in the community.

“The trustees want to change the work of the charity for the benefit of the people of Sidmouth and we want to have the support of the community,” said administrator Ruth Rose.

“If the Charity Commission insist that we provide some kind of almshouse accommodation, then we would not have the funds to provide grants for assisted living, where the need now lies.

“The district council’s experience backs up our opinion that Sidmouth does not have a need for almshouse accommodation. We could no longer carry on running it [Culver House] because it wasn’t in the best interests of the people living there. It was absorbing more and more capital.”

Mrs Rose added that money is far better spent supporting people of all ages in their own homes and helping those in hardship.

Sidmouth Consolidated Charities, founded in 1280, is a discrete and unique body which awards grants to people of all ages in various scenarios and has an active board of trustees who meet regularly. It spends the interest on a sum of money left for the good of the people of Sidmouth.

The only criteria for a person to apply is that they must be needy and must live within the boundaries of the town council parish.

The charity is now keen to hear residents’ thoughts.

To have your say, email ruth.rose@eclipse.co.uk, call 01395 513079, or write to Mrs R Rose, 22 Alexandria Road, Sidmouth, EX10 9HB.

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