Fundraising campaign launched to save Finsbury health centre
13:00 30 November 2012
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The people of Finsbury are rallying round to raise up to £6million in a bid to stop a landmark health centre falling into ruin.
Supporters of Finsbury Health Centre – a historic Grade I-listed building built in 1938 by the renowned architect Berthold Lubetkin – have come together to form the Finsbury Health Centre Preservation Trust.
The trust plans to raise enough money to renovate the neglected building in Pine Street, Finsbury, into a modern health centre.
And it is gearing up to fight off any plans the coalition government may have to sell it off to the highest bidder.
Barbara Jacobson, of the Save Finsbury Health Centre Campaign, who is launching the trust on December 14, said: “It’s at the heart of the community and it’s one of the last community buildings in Clerkenwell – a very densely populated part of the borough.
“It’s important that people are able to access community services near their homes and we love our building. It’s our St Paul’s. Why shouldn’t people have their services in a beautiful building?”
The Save Finsbury Health Centre Campaign first kicked off after NHS Islington announced back in 2008 that it was going to sell the building – which is home to health services such as GPs, dentists, physiotherapy and podiatry – because it would cost too much to bring it up to standard.
In the end, NHS Islington backed down and agreed not to sell off the centre, which was originally built to bring high-quality health care to the masses, because it did not have enough money to build a replacement.
NHS Islington has more recently carried out emergency repairs to the building after it was placed on an English Heritage at-risk register.
The new Finsbury Health Centre Preservation Trust plans to apply for cash from grant-making bodies.
“The idea is to have a proper modern health centre with the same services it has at the moment,” said Ms Jacobson.
The trust is also prepared to take on ownership of the centre itself if NHS bosses resurrect plans to sell it.
When primary care trusts such as NHS Islington are abolished by the coalition government in April 2013, campaigners expect ownership of the Finsbury Health Centre to pass into the hands of a new Department of Health-owned company, NHS Property Services Ltd.
Ms Jacobson said: “They have assured us that NHS PropCo is not going to sell anything off in the first year but it also has a remit to make a profit. If they want to sell it, we will be ready for that fight.”