Urgent Renovations Needed
We very much need your help! We’re nearing the point of our large and wonderful building becoming unfit for purpose. The Claremont building has been an important part of Islington’s community for over 100 years. We’re known nationally and internationally for our work with community arts, especially with isolated older people.
Claremont currently has no step-free access to all floors in the building, including the lower ground, first and second floors where activity halls and meeting rooms are located. The current building is not suitable for many people who find stairs difficult or impossible to manage. This affects not only older people wanting to access classes and events in inaccessible areas but also means that visitors to our tenants’ offices (on the first and second floors) and to out-of-hours meetings and events in the Upper and Lower Halls are inaccessible. There are over 35,000 visits to our building a year. But how many people are being excluded?
Aspects of the fabric of the building are inefficient and ecologically unsound, including our heating and lighting (not updated in well-over 20 years, in some areas much longer than that). Although we have replaced many single pane windows with energy efficient double-glazed units, many older windows remain, some of which are falling apart. In some places, the fabric of the building is starting to crumble (old ceiling plaster and concrete screeding, in particular).
Claremont has no reception area at the front of the building to welcome, direct, or engage with visitors. There is just a long low false-ceilinged corridor and a long walk to the main office, which is in a non-wheelchair accessible area. The building looks unloved and inhospitable which is the polar opposite of what we want people to experience when they walk through Claremont’s doors.
The toilets are largely unchanged since the 1950’s and are in desperate need of being updated.
We also currently only have one, very cramped Claremont office, which is open-plan and open to the many hundreds of Claremont members and visitors to the building. It is extremely difficult to manage Back Office functions (accounting, report writing, funding applications, etc) at the same time as Front-of-House functions, such as greeting new membership enquiries, adding people to sign-up lists, social chatting, etc.
First and foremost, we want to create a space which is welcoming, inspiring, and safe; where people feel comfortable and at home. We want to offer a place where people can relax, meet up before or after a class, have their lunch, or join a classmate for a coffee, where they can settle in for a couple of hours and read a book or chat to others.
The new refurbishment will allow us to:
- Replace the draughty and heavy manual front doors with automated sliding doors
- Create a capacious reception area and a viewing gallery into one of our halls
- Install a platform lift and make all areas step-free
- Update the toilets so that they are modern, pleasant and also suitable as changing rooms
- Remove the low false-ceiling and install glazed roof lights
- Update our inefficient heating system by installing an A-rated, energy efficient boilers
- Install new radiators with thermostatic valves
- Replace and insulate pipework
- Replace worn out chairs, tables, sofas, kitchenettes etc.
- Replace lighting with low energy-use LED and install a new lighting control system
- Make good the fabric of the building
- Create a social area and medium-sized meeting room
- Create two Claremont office spaces; one primarily as Front-of-House and the other for “quiet-work”
Will you help us make Claremont fit for another hundred years and serve many thousands of people?
You may be curious as to why the work is so expensive? It’s down to three things:
- The services (heating pipes/systems, gas supply, drains, and electrical work), which weave through the building bizarrely and extensively
- The structure of the building, which needs fundamental work to make any significant changes
- VAT, which adds 20% to the final bill (there is no reduction for charities, not even for disabled access works)
To save the building and make it a resource for thousands of people in the years to come, we need your help! Will you help us?