Project information

Building a thriving community hub in Topsham

With local services facing closure and rapidly increasing demand on our lifeline services, Estuary League of Friends plans to take over the management of Topsham Library and convert the site into a multi-purpose, thriving community hub serving the needs of vulnerable people from nearby communities.

December 2015 - December 2016

Charity information: The Estuary League Of Friends

The Estuary League Of Friends logo
  • Need


    In Exeter and East Devon, pockets of severe deprivation and communities of isolated, frail older people struggling to cope alone are masked by the appearance of prosperity. Of the few services that exist to support the vulnerable and disadvantaged, many are facing closure due to funding cuts. In recent years, Estuary League of Friends has grown steadily to meet the needs of local people but we are at maximum capacity, operating within the limitations of our current premises.


    Estuary League of Friends has a rare opportunity to take over management of Topsham Library and has planning permission to build a thriving multi-purpose community hub that will offer services (including enhanced library provision) six days a week to the most vulnerable people from local communities in Exeter and East Devon. Transport to and from the hub will be made available for people of limited mobility and without the means to reach the hub unaided.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    To build a two storey, multi-purpose community hub that will serve people from Exeter and East Devon


    » Secure funding required through a major capital appeal
    » Complete community engagement so we know what young people, new mums, vulnerable older people and their carers etc need and how we can deliver
    » Commission the build which is scheduled to last twelve months
    » Work with partners including other local charities, local businesses and Devon County Council to provide a range of services for local people in need

    What success will look like

    The community hub will be built on site and will be open to the public by 2018

  • Impact


    Services supporting vulnerable and disadvantaged people in Exeter and East Devon will be significantly enhanced with the introduction of a credit union, community cafe, IT training, assisted bathing and specialist exercise clubs. Partnership working will increase between charities, businesses, health and social care providers. Older people will feel less isolated, happier and better supported. We will demonstrate success by monitoring the range of interventions and through beneficiaries feedback


    Risks are:
    1. Takes longer than anticipated to raise the required funding and the project is delayed. We developed a full fundraising plan which has been scrutinised and risk assessed. We considered loan options as a last resort should we fall short of our fundraising target.
    2. The costs of the build rise. We scrutinised costings provided by building/ quantity surveyors and architects, factored in a contingency and will monitor expenditure against plans and scale-up fundraising if necessary.


    We will report on a regular basis (as per their reporting preferences or every six months). We will invite donors to attend key events including the grand opening. We will thank all donors, produce a full report on completion of the project, and invite donors to return to the hub to see it in action

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £1,800,000

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £250,000 Fees and searches Architects and Consultant Engineers, Legal fees and relevant searches
      £1,550,000 Construction and fit out Construction costs and fit for specialist rooms including laundry and cooking facilities

    Current Funding / Pledges

    Source Amount
    Contribution from reserves as designated fund £90,000 Guaranteed
  • Background


    The community hub will be built in the heart of Topsham on the site of the current Library.

    Whilst the hub will be based in Topsham - a small, picturesque and much loved town on the Exe Estuary in Devon - it will serve vulnerable and disadvantaged residents of parts of Exeter and East Devon including for example Lower Countess Wear (ranked in the top 2% for poor living environment according to Indices of Multiple Deprivation - Topsham is in top 9%).


    Local people, especially the most vulnerable and disadvantaged, will benefit. Currently, Estuary League of Friends supports over 1,200 vulnerable people each year, this figure is set to increase to approximately 10,000 people each year once the hub is established. Service users include:
    - Elderly, often frail, local people who live alone and need help to cope and stay independent
    - Older people with dementia and memory loss
    - Carers
    - Disabled young people
    - Terminally ill

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    Estuary League of Friends is the leading charity working to support vulnerable people living in and around Topsham. The charity has grown steadily under the leadership of Chief Executive Rachel Gilpin, to reach more communities and impact on the lives of more of East Devon’s most vulnerable residents. In recent years, demand for our services has grown but we can't respond due to the limitations of our premises. Since this opportunity arose, we assembled an expert team to deliver this project.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Rachel Gilpin

    Rachel has taken the charity from strength to strength since joining as Chief Executive in 2004. Rachel is spearheading the build.

    Kirkham Associates Ltd

    Building and quantity surveyors and architects with a proven track record of managing new builds including community centres

    Michelmores Solicitors

    The firm has a proven track record of supporting charities both locally and nationally and is advising in relation to the project's legal requirements


    Attend is the national charity committed to supporting volunteer-enabling organisations whose team is experienced in fundraising and capital builds