One for all in new voluntary office

Sanford House has re-opened as the Swindon Advice and Support centre. Cutting the ribbon are, left to right, Paul Bearman, Director of commissioning for CCG, David Wray, Chief Executive of Voluntary Action Swindon, Claire Newport, Chief Executive of Citiz

Sanford House has re-opened as the Swindon Advice and Support centre. Cutting the ribbon are, left to right, Paul Bearman, Director of commissioning for CCG, David Wray, Chief Executive of Voluntary Action Swindon, Claire Newport, Chief Executive of Citiz

First published in News Swindon Advertiser: Photograph of the Author by , @Michael_Benke

HISTORIC Sanford House has been brought back to life as it officially becomes home to Swindon’s voluntary sector.

The former school building has undergone a makeover inside and now provides top-class facilities to organisations such as the Citizen’s Advice Bureau and the Swindon Advocacy Movement.

The organisations who are moving have said there are huge benefits to them all being in one location, while the council says money can be saved in rent costs for all the organisations.

Work has been carried out on the premises for a number of months at Sanford House, which has been empty since Children’s Service’s left almost two years ago, meaning users of the services will feel like they are coming to a brand new building.

A number of organisations have already moved in, with several more set to join them in the coming months.

Among the first organisations were CAB, and the Chief Executive Claire Newport believes the new building will be a huge benefit to their users.

She said: “It’s a fantastic building and the facilities are much improved on what we had before.

“It is well located, and it is all on one level which is ideal for disabled access.

“It’s a lot better than our old building and I think everyone is enjoying the fresh feel.

“Being close means our staff can get to know the organisations we refer people to much easier, and with them being in the same building we can directly take people to groups, rather than point them in the right direction.”

The office space will be managed by Voluntary Action Swindon, who have welcomed the new-look building which they say will be of huge benefit to those who are in need of help.

Chief Executive David Wray said: “This is a brilliant opportunity for the voluntary sector in Swindon. It will be so much easier for people who now no longer have to go to multiple locations.

“Sanford House is ideally situated in the town centre and perhaps it can help to lift this area of the town as it can sometimes get a little quiet.

“In other places where services have been under one roof it has been a good thing for everyone.”

The transformation of the building began last year, supported by an investment of £350,000 funded jointly from Swindon Council and the Swindon Clinical Commissioning Group.

Councillor Brian Mattock (Con, Old Town), the cabinet member for health and social care, said: “We have been looking forward to this for a long time.

“This is a win-win for everyone involved. The organisations here are coming into fantastic new facilities, the users have all the services they need in one place, and the council saves in subsidies used to pay rents.

“It is also fantastic to be able to bring this building back into use rather than leave it empty.”

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