News From The Pitstop

Chairman’s Blog – September 2014

Welcome to our new website!  We are all very proud of it and hope you agree with us that it really is quite splendid!  Our website is not, however, the only change we are making at The Pitstop.  We are, at last, in the process of securing a permanent home after the floods of last winter.  A possible premises has been identified and acquisition funding is being sought from possible partners.  We now have an urgent need raise £70,000 for one-off acquisition costs and making premises fit for purpose. We need to achieve this in ten weeks and are currently in the process of launching our “Forever Home” campaign to meet our goal.  It’s a big challenge and I’m appealing to all of you –  please help us in any way you are able!

We have set up a Volunteer Fundraising Committee and the team has been busily working to ensure the campaign has the best chance of success.  I cannot emphasise strongly enough how crucial it is we succeed.  Please help us so that The Pitstop can maintain and strengthen the support we can give to our clients.

The Pitstop is very much focused on looking forward and being better than ever.  However, I would like to briefly look back and reflect on what has been a very challenging twelve months, full of changes, some positive and others very sad:

  • Graham Peddie MBE (founder of the Pitstop some 15 years ago) has retired from The Pitstop activities. We all recognise the marvellous achievements Graham has made working with the homeless and disadvantaged people in Mole Valley and truly wish him every success in the future.
  • Dave – a client and wonderful volunteer who tirelessly did the washing up after lunch every day for many years – was found drowned in the river Mole November 2013. His death was a tragic loss and he is sadly missed by us all.
  • Our Furniture collection and delivery van finally came to the end of its life. Fortunately Trustee Emma Burdon had organised a Fundraising Designer Clothes Sale specifically to buy a replacement van. This raised £9,000 and we were able to secure a replacement – an ex NHS van with a lift at the back!
  • The Trustees have appointed Wallace Whybrow as the Manager of The Pitstop and he has made a positive start under very difficult circumstances. We wish him every success.

The most significant change this year, however, was without a doubt losing our premises at Leatherhead Football Club, which was flooded four feet deep on Christmas Eve 2013 forcing us to abandon the location after fifteen years.  Thanks to Leatherhead United Reformed Church – (and Fetcham Village Hall before that) – we have not been homeless. We are currently using the URC hall premises four days a week and so continuing to provide a service to our clients – not to the extent we would like, but enough to help them keep body & soul together and for our excellent staff to offer help as much as possible.

Before our Trustees decided the best course of action was to purchase new premises, they looked at the possibility of renting.  We viewed twenty-four possible premises, but none have proved feasible or came to fruition. Sadly, many possible landlords worried that we would not be good neighbours. This is a reputation The Pitstop Trustees and Staff are determined to change and we believe we are succeeding since we have been at Leatherhead URC.

Once again, I would strongly urge you to offer any assistance you can to The Pitstop.  Please take time to view our Volunteering and How to Donates pages.  Please remember, any donation – however small – will be gratefully received.  We are looking forward to a bright and positive future for the charity but we need your help!

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