From November 1979 the Starters Café extended the café’s offering by opening a crèche for parents to leave their children for up to two hours with a trained supervisor. The children were able to experience creative and fun activities while their parents went into Stroud to shop. There was no charge for the crèche it relied on voluntary donations to help cover the cost of running it.

In February 1980 a proposed development for Stroud High Street threatened the demolition of Starters café. The following months involved many demonstrations to prevent this demolition. In June 1980 at a hearing in London the high court ordered Stroud Borough Council to reconsider its decision regarding the demolition.

During this time plans began to emerge to buy the British School STW did this in the knowledge that they would need to leave Starters Café by 29th September 1980.  As one of the founders stated in the local newspaper:

“In Shire Training Workshops we have worked with some 40 young people who would otherwise have not been helped. It will obviously seriously threaten our service to young people if premises cannot be found. To help them we have got to buy the building”

Tom Bermingham, Stroud News and Journal 10/7/80

In October 1980 STW received confirmation that Stroud District Council had offered them the opportunity to buy the British School. While the money for refurbishments needed to the British School was raised STW were given the use of a room in the Subscription Rooms to run Starters café from.    

In March 1981 STW launched an appeal to raise £30,000 to restore British School. By July 1982 phase one of the redevelopment of the British School was complete.   

By January 1983 another phase in the continuing renovation of the British school had been completed and STW had established a new management group. This consisted of three founder members and four current employees / volunteers. So at the end of this brief overview of the first five years of STW the management group was made up of the following people:

The Management Group

Helen Tank was one of the original founders of STW and the person who created and ran Starters, the community café in Stroud High Street.  Helen was also actively involved in promoting crèche facilities and services relating to women and work.

Tom Bermingham was also one of the original founders.  Having coordinated the start of STW he had a considerable experience of providing opportunities for the unemployed and was experienced in working on related government programmes.

George Perry was the third founder member of the management group and the educational director of the social and life skills unit for the Youth Opportunities Programme.

Liz Rowsell was the fundraising coordinator but was keen to be able to concentrate on facilitating a community arts programme.

John Grice was part of the fund raising committee. Actively involved in many local groups and with particular interest in ‘community resource facilities’ he had many talents he was able to foster at the British School.

Steve Eyles was also involved in fundraising. His aim within the management group was to extend knowledge of the work of STW and attract interest from other trusts and grant making bodies. 

Annie Smith was actively involved as a team leader on the Youth Opportunities programme in the training office. She had a particular interest in the needs of the adolescent in the community and hoped to ensure that facilities developed provide for them.

During this period STW was granted full charitable status. This came at a time when the rising number of single homeless people in Stroud and the shortage of suitable accommodation was being highlighted and STW began thinking about how it could address this issue. 

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OPENhouse is the trading name of Shire Training Workshops Ltd. Registered address: British School, Slad road, Stroud GL5 1QW.
Company number: 1429772  |  Registered Charity number: 285834
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