CAMPAIGNERS have kick-started an online fundraiser in a bid to buy a former hospital put up for sale by the NHS.
More than £700 has been raised via a Crowdfunder launched by members of the new Emsworth United campaign, which was set up following the listing of the Victoria Cottage Hospital last month.
The unused site was put up for sale by NHS Property Services (NHSPS) after it was deemed ‘surplus to requirements’ by the Eastern Hampshire Clinical Commissioning Group.
Now, the team which assembled to save and repurpose the landmark – a registered asset of community value – is hoping donors’ generosity could make headway toward realising their dream.
Dwynwen Stepien, who is spearheading the effort, said: ‘We are determined someone else will not get their hands on that site.
‘Since the campaign started we’ve had volunteers from surveyors to leaflets deliverers come forward to help and we hope this fund will enable us to engage with the community further.
‘Every pound counts and the more supporters we have, the more pressure we can put on the people selling the building.’
Set to go through the newly-founded Emsworth Community Land Trust, it is hoped an eventual successful bid – if substantial funding is secured – could help turn the hospital into a facility beneficial to the community.
Campaigners have already discussed options including a self-support diabetic group, spaces for speech and language therapy and childcare – but talks will continue at a public meeting at Emsworth Baptist Church at 6.30pm on August 22.
Havant MP Alan Mak has also secured NHS attendance to a future meeting he is organising for the community and all stakeholders.
It follows a letter he sent to NHSPS after he nor the community was alerted to the sale before it went live.
Mr Mak said: ‘Following my letter and the pressure from my campaigning [NHSPS] immediately responded to confirm they’ll freeze the sale process if a bid is submitted.
‘I’m organising a meeting to bring together community representatives to agree a way forward, and I’ve secured the NHS’ attendance.
‘I oppose the Cottage Hospital site sale without the community having the chance to buy it.’
Aside from the new Emsworth United campaign, Mr Mak has been leading his own drive to secure a satellite doctor’s surgery in the centre of Emsworth – following news the current Emsworth Surgery would relocate.
He added: ‘I’ll continue to support efforts to ensure that Emsworth residents have access to high quality medical services.’
To donate to Emsworth United’s campaign to buy the site, click here.