A BRAIN injury charity is in a race against time to save its Hawick headquarters. 

The volunteers at Heads Together, based at Dovemount Place, have been told by their landlord that the property will be sold on unless they can raise £65,000 and purchase the property outright. 

The group has already raised £12,000 through their own efforts, and is waiting on the outcome of a national lottery grant application, although the charity is unlikely to receive enough money from the lottery and is therefore relying on the Hawick and Galashiels common good funds to make up the shortfall. 

The founder and chairman of Heads Together, Steven Turnbull, has already secured a promise from Hawick councillors that the town’s common good fund will provide a grant, depending on the size of the lottery funding. 

However, as the majority of the charity’s service users hail from Galashiels, Heads Together has asked Galashiels councillors if they’d be willing to match Hawick’s offer. 

Appearing at a meeting of the Galashiels common good fund committee, Mr Turnbull said: “We’re a brain injury charity, we’re based in Hawick, but the majority of our service users come from Galashiels. Hawick common good are helping us quite a lot. 

“The problem we’ve got is that the landlord has told us that they’re going to put our base up for sale, and we’ve got until the end of the year to raise £65,000 to buy it. 

“If we were to move, some of our service users are so brain damaged that they’re worried about the impact it would have on them. It could actually set us back years, as they feel safe and secure there.

“What we give is arts and crafts, day trips, we do speech therapy, there’s a lot of activities going on. 

“The most important thing for us it to give these people a better life. They’re not going to heal, so we’re looking at giving them a better life and something to look forward to. That’s basically what we do.”

The charity has investigated other funding revenues, particularly through Scottish Borders Council, but has been told the charity does not qualify for grants. 

Mr Turnbull added: “We’re putting in £12,000 ourselves, but there’s amounts that have come in from small donations. One was £5,000, another was £3,000, for example. So it is coming in but it’s slow. 

“When we first spoke to funding officers, they told us they were sure they could help us get the money. However, we have since been told that there is no help available from the council. 

“We don’t qualify for most of the things that they can grant for. We were originally told we would qualify for a landfill grant, but they then came back and told us we wouldn’t. 

“We were told that if we were based at Selkirk we would be okay, but in Hawick we’re not.”

Galashiels and District councillor, Sandy Aitchison, who chairs the common good fund committee, called for the decision to be deferred, and offered to investigate potential funding opportunities for the charity himself. 

He said: “We meet every three months, so at this point I’m suggesting we don’t say yay or nay. I need to speak to funding officers to find out what may or may not be available.

“I think it would be sensible for us, as we’re a very limited common good fund, in terms of what we have. 

“We don’t have Hawick of Selkirk’s munificence, we have a very limited amount of money. Therefore we have to be very sensible in how we spend our money. 

“That said, you have made a very eloquent case, but what I don’t want to do is to be seen to commit us at this stage. We will be meeting again in December and by that time we will hopefully have an answer.”

After the meeting, councillor Aitchison clarified that local councillors and officers will be actively seeking to hold a meeting with the applicants to find a way to help them.