Council launches project to find affordable premises for 1,300 local charities

05 Apr 2024 News

By Shisu_ka/Adobe

A south London local authority has launched a project to help 1,300 local charities find affordable properties amid “skyrocketing” prices in the area.

Southwark Council has partnered with two local charities to launch the Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS) Premises Project, which aims to support local charities in finding affordable premises for their work. 

The partnership is led by the council, the umbrella body for the local voluntary sector Community Southwark, and the funder United St Saviour’s Charity. 

With 1,300 registered charities in Southwark, the partnership claims that the rising cost of property in the area is posing a threat to them and their ability to provide their services. 

The project will lead a matchmaking service that connects charities with available spaces from the public sector and private landlords in the London borough. The partnership says it is seeking to influence businesses in Southwark to provide spaces for the charity sector. 

Social enterprise consultants, PPL, are providing pro-bono support to the initiative. 

‘Charities cannot afford to pay today’s commercial rates’

Sarah Thurman, head of community investment at United St Saviour’s Charity said: “The skyrocketing value of land and property in Southwark is not only causing a housing crisis but it’s also a huge problem for charities who simply cannot afford to pay today’s commercial rates.  

“While we provide grants to charities and social enterprises across the borough, we can’t solve their premises challenges. This innovative project represents a collective effort to support the crucial work of local groups.” 
Anood Al-Samerai, chief executive of Community Southwark, said: “We are delighted that funders and the council understand the challenges which charities and community groups face in finding affordable and suitable space. 

“Working in partnership we hope to maximise and match the opportunities already out there, and improve decisions about VCS space for the future.”

Councillor: ‘Charities work is invaluable’

Councillor Stephanie Cryan, who works in communities, democracy and finance, said that Southwark Council is “very proud” to be part of the new partnership. 

“We are very proud to be part of this new partnership to drive up the supply of affordable space that meets the needs of our charities and local groups. 

“Their work is invaluable and we want to make sure that we are making full use of Southwark's buildings on their behalf and crucially, the people they support. This includes the council looking at our own portfolio, as well as working with developers and landlords.”

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