Corbenic New House – a vital step forward

Corbenic New House is a £1,600,000 building project that will be of long term benefit to generations of learning disabled people and their families. Since 1978 Corbenic Camphill Community has met the residential and day care needs of adults with a learning disability by providing an integrated community near Dunkeld, Perthshire. The statutory Care Inspectorate’s reports state that: “The service does very well in providing a ‘holistic’ approach………this means that it considers all aspects of a person’s life, including physical and mental health, realising potential, promoting independence and promoting choice and dignity.”

THINK Interim was asked to provide an interim manager to design and implement a Capital Appeal by Camphill Central Scotland Ltd (CCST), the funding trust who has responsibility for developing Camphill places in Central Scotland.

Corbenic and CCST were faced with a need to expand the community by ten places, partly to enable longstanding members of their community to remain in their home as they got older and partly because funding from local authorities was being squeezed and they need to take advantage of the economies of scale that an expansion would bring.

£1,600,000 was a daunting total for a small organisation that did not have a fundraising programme and met most of its costs from the revenue received from local authorities for the existing 24 residents.

A 32.5 day contract was agreed and THINK allocated George Ruston, a former charity CEO who has general management experience to go with fundraising expertise and, helpfully, a background that included planning joint services for the Learning Disabled during his work as a NHS Community and Continuing Care Unit manager.


Based in London, George visited Corbenic and agreed the parameters of the task with the local management. Initially, an ambitious target of £500,000 from grant-making trusts was set with the balance to come from a bank loan – with the possibility of approaching the Social Investment Scotland (SIS) fund should it have monies to grant and/or loan for future years.

Working together, with an aim of ensuring that the fund-raising ‘knowledge’ remained available to Corbenic after the contract, a case for support was established that could be used as a template for applications to grant making trusts. Clear descriptions, external validation, photographs and clarity around funding were all used to build a compelling case that would be used to approach potential funders. It was essential that Corbenic inherit a clear and systematic approach to fundraising based on accurate research and forward planning so that, if required, local fundraising could continue as appropriate.

The contract spread over seven months with work being undertaken on a flexible basis so that it suited Corbenic’s timetables. Applications were researched and prepared by George and then sent electronically to Corbenic for sign off. Attention was also given to areas where funders might go to check on Corbenic and, for example, George provided advice and text for website content. His case for support was also used by a specialist consultant employed to approach the SIS Fund, resulting in a £451,000 grant plus matching loan.


As at the end of May, 2013, Corbenic has received a further £422,000 in donations or pledges from fourteen grant-making trusts with other potential funders still to report. The New House is now wind and watertight and almost half way through its construction phase and will be ready to welcome new residents in early 2014. This development will help to secure the future of Corbenic which is not only good news for the existing residents but also for the ten individuals who will join them. Scotland has a shortage of quality residential accommodation for those with severe Learning Disabilities and the Corbenic New House is a much needed addition to the national resource.

When Camphill Central Scotland Trust commissioned THINK for the Corbenic project it was because they already had experience at another of their places (Camphill Blair Drummond) of how effective THINK’s guidance could be. The final total raised vindicated CCST’s decision to use an interim fund-raising manager to secure the grant and loan funds which made the project possible.

“THINK’s structured and professional approach was very helpful in assisting us to decide where to target our fundraising efforts for maximum effect. The end sum raised was beyond our expectations. Bringing THINK onboard was charitable money well spent.” Bill Nicol, Chair of Camphill Central Scotland Trust Ltd