£4.5m social investment fund for homelessness charities to launch

£4.5m social investment fund for homelessness charities to launch
Civil Society News, by Rob Preston


A social investment fund for homelessness charities across England worth £4.5m – said to be the first of its kind – will launch next month.


Membership charity for homelessness and supported housing agencies Homeless Link will invest the money over the next three years, offering homelessness organisations unsecured loans of amounts between £25,000 and £150,000.


It says the aim of the fund is to test where social investment can be most effectively to improve outcomes. It is looking to support organisations to:

increase the homelessness sector’s knowledge and experience of social investment
develop new models for income generation and funding
improve their long-term sustainability

The programme is financed by Access – The Foundation for Social Investment, through its growth fund, which combines a grant from Big Lottery Fund and a loan from Big Society Capital.


Homeless Link’s director of strategy and innovation, Mark McPherson said: “We hope that the investments will unlock innovative ways of working with people experiencing homelessness, and help to put the recipient organisations on a sustainable footing.


“The programme will also help feed into the bigger picture of how different funding mechanisms can work for homelessness services.


“Homeless Link intends to lead the way in understanding the role of social investment in our sector so that we can continue to support our members’ development.”


A spokesperson for the charity, which has almost 800 members, told Civil Society News it was looking to fund charities with “medium to high” social impact but said it was open to all different projects.


The fund will be opened on 19 June at an event in central London and will run for three years, with an initial round open this year expected to finance five projects. Charities will be able to apply for funding through Homeless Link’s website.


Seb Elsworth, chief executive of Access, said his organisation hoped to work with more infrastructure bodies like Homelessness Link in future.


He said: “Homeless Link’s fund is a great step forward in making social investment more accessible and relevant to charities and social enterprises seeking to tackle homelessness.


“It is also a great step forward for a membership body in the sector to play such an innovative role in connecting their members to capital and helping them develop new operating models.