Wellbeing hub plan for Great White Horse Hotel

Emmaus Suffolk CEO Claire Staddon on the charity's plan to expand its wellbeing hub into the Great White Horse Hotel. 

Emmaus Suffolk CEO Claire Staddon on the charity's plan to expand its wellbeing hub into the Great White Horse Hotel. - Credit: Archant/Charlotte Bond

Emmaus Suffolk has set its sights on expanding into part of the historic Great White Horse Hotel. 

The organisation is looking to grow its successful wellbeing hubs and is looking at the Tavern Street site as it would allow them to double the number of people it is currently supporting. 

The charity supports people experiencing social isolation, loneliness, and long-term unemployment as well as those at risk of homelessness.

Jill Dibben area retail manager, Amy Wragg charted manager apprentice and Claire Staddon CEO. A new

Claire Staddon (right) said the White Horse Hotel has potential to offer a larger venue to support user demand. - Credit: CHARLOTTE BOND

Claire Staddon, chief executive of Emmaus Suffolk, said: “Our town centre hub based in Sailmakers has proved so popular that we are already having to turn people away due to the size of the space.

"The White Horse Hotel retail space has both the potential to offer a larger venue for our hubs but also the opportunity for us to expand our furniture retail offer.” 

As part of its plans, the organisation is seeking £4,320 from Ipswich Borough Council's Central Area committee to cover the costs of craft materials, 5% of utilities costs and refreshments. 

Emmaus Suffolk has received £20,000 in funding from Reaching Communities that will be used for staff costs and has reserves to cover the cost of the hub's rent. 

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Its current hubs are in the Sailmakers Shopping Centre, The former Royal Oak pub in Felixstowe Road, and Felixstowe Community Centre where they provide a safe space for people to relax and enjoy themselves through creative projects, gardening, cooking, or a friendly chat. 

Other activities available at the hub incorporate music, employability skills and art. 

In addition, the organisation has provided nearly 400 volunteering and work opportunities in its shops and cafes across Ipswich and Felixstowe. 

A regular user of the wellbeing hubs said the space has helped them have "less anxiety generally".  

Mrs Staddon added: “Our ambition is to introduce to Suffolk new ways of tackling entrenched homelessness, isolation, and unemployment. We do this by enabling and empowering people to help themselves through meaningful activity in our wellbeing hubs and social enterprises that will benefit both themselves and others."

The Central Area committee will discuss the funding proposal on Wednesday.