Back from my honeymoon, where I desperately tried to turn my snooping newshound head off, but then found myself slipping into interview mode by asking every passing Scot there thoughts on independence. Still, a great holiday had in the town of my birth, with many highlights including discovering Barrs make more pop than just Irn Bru: the cola they do is so incredible I weeped sticky treacle tears; and not one person talking about the bloody tram.
I’ve taken a break from the magazine while I’m been busy getting married/honeymooning, leaving it in the capable hands of others who keep telling me to retract my beak and go and climb a mountain every time I try and intervene. Yet a great long term story we’ve ran here and on the magazine reached a bit of a climax just before I went away, and it’s great news.
Just under a year ago, my colleague at The Beestonian Christian Fox reported on how the ViiTal charity shop had been forced out of their premises by Ladbrokes. We were pretty annoyed by the way Ladbrokes had acted, but business is business and their was no way to fight back. ViTal duly closed, with the charity it supported, Beeston Based Young Potential, severed from it’s chief source of income. We awaited the depressing site of a bookies to appear.
Christian and I got suspicious, so earlier this year we decided to investigate. After talking to various sources we discovered the shocking fact that Ladbrokes had no intention of moving in. They were effectively landbanking the shop. We ran it as the lead in Issue 23 of The Beestonian, then wrote an open letter to the Chief Executive of Ladbrokes pointing out the damage they were doing. Between both pieces, Young Potential had to close, no longer having the steady income stream the shop provided to fund the many local projects they ran to help into work young people and disabled people who grow up facing social exclusion, poverty, poor living conditions, neglect, abuse and insecurity. They looked at setting up under a new banner, Transform, but with no funds this would be a laborious process: before a charity can get official status it has to have £5,000 in the bank. It’s a real Catch-22: without the charitable status it’s difficult to fundraise; without funds it’s difficult to get charitable status.
Richard Glynn, head of Ladbrokes, then surprised us by sending an apologetic email to us to pass onto the founder of Young Potential, Teresa. We duly passed it on. There was mention of a donation to Transform, but we expected this to be a token figure of around £100, with the proviso that we shut up about it afterwards. Well, better than nothing.
I was having coffee at Bean last week, when Sophie, one of the people behind Transform, came bounding out their office, which overlooks the coffeeshop. ‘Ladbrokes have sent us a letter!’ she told me ‘And they’ve enclosed a cheque for £5,000!’ I was pretty astounded.
A few qualifiers before we let off the fireworks: the closure of ViTal probably cost more than £5,000 to the charity, and £5,000 is a dust mote of the £1.1 billion Ladbrokes turned over in 2013. But it’s £5,000 more than they would have had without a fuss being kicked up about it, and they can now get charitable status and get on with the great work they do. Also, I reckon Teresa, the charity founder, won’t be shy to tap up Richard Glynn for a few quid more in the future….
For now, we’ll draw a line under the story and put it in our ‘success!’ folder. We couldn’t have done it without the support of readers here and at The Beestonian, and I want to thank Christian Fox for his tenacity, thoroughness and journalistic skills in guiding the story from despair to success.
Beeston Continuum continues to develop, and more news out later on our next steps. There is a great write up of the recent meetin g in the latest Civic Society magazine (to get a copy sent over you’re best of becoming a member:email email@example.com to do just that), and Professor Poliakoff and myself had our articles on the idea of an iconic building in town published in the Nottingham Post on Wednesday, have a look here, here and here. Keep the ideas coming in, now I’m back in South Britain I’ll start working through them.