Liverpool-based social business, The Reader, has today been awarded ‘preferred bidder’ status for Calderstones Mansion House by Liverpool City Council.
The Reader, will transform Calderstones Mansion House, Coach House and Stable Yard into an International Centre for Reading and Wellbeing at Calderstones, working with three key local partners, Mersey Care NHS, Plus Dane Group and the University of Liverpool’s CRILS (Centre for Research into Reading, Information and Linguistic Systems).
Jane Davis, founder and director of The Reader, said:
“Our vision for Calderstones is a community for everyone, with reading at its heart. We will ask people what they want and need and then connect them with it. We think that at Calderstones we have the perfect location to make this a regeneration success story for our city.
“The restored buildings will create a beautiful facility for local people, yet at the same time connect us to international visitors.
“At Calderstones we will all connect.”
The Reader shares Liverpool City Council’s vision of Liverpool being ‘equal, well and green’ by 2020. Their proposal respects the heritage of the beautiful Grade II status buildings, the character of the surrounding Calderstones Park and the views of local people, whilst creating a sustainable social enterprise that will change people’s lives. With reading firmly at its heart, The Reader will:
- Hugely improve the offer to park users with a superb bistro, conference, events and training facilities, gardens, gallery and shop;
- Establish an international hub for shared reading practice, training and academic research;
- Support local community groups and community entrepreneurs through the provision of meeting rooms, activities and workshop studios;
- Reach some of the most vulnerable people in our society, creating aspiration and opportunities for personal development;
- Create jobs and provide volunteering, mentoring, apprenticeship and employment opportunities to service users and local graduates;
- Consult the local community on their views and ideas.
Liverpool Councillor Malcolm Kennedy, cabinet member for Regeneration, said:
“I’m delighted that we have appointed The Reader to take over the Mansion House. They are a strong organisation with an excellent track record of growing their charity year-on-year.
“There was a good deal of interest in the building, and we considered all the proposals carefully. We chose The Reader because we were impressed by what was a very strong bid. They have some fantastic ideas which we believe will not only bring the building back into use in a meaningful way but will help protect its future.”
The Reader has an excellent track record in creating new products and managing projects. Since 2008, the social business has more than doubled its income, increased staff numbers by over 200% and increased its Get Into Reading Group activity by nearly 300%.
The Reader now enters a six month planning period with its partners and consultants, Cass Associates (architects) and Pulse Regeneration. They expect to take up residency at Calderstones this coming August, whilst retaining their current base in West Everton. Development of the full International Centre for Reading and Wellbeing will be phased and expected to complete in December 2015.