Collaborative loan finance helps secure new volunteering hub in Edinburgh
Matter & Co
A volunteer centre linking over 30,000 volunteers each year with valuable work experience has opened its doors to the public in new offices in central Edinburgh. Volunteer Centre Edinburgh, which supports people seeking work experience for employability, older people who want to volunteer, people with mental health problems, and more, has purchased 540 square metres of property and office space thanks to loan finance from Unity Trust Bank and Big Issue Invest Scotland.
Due to the proposed demolition of its previous rented offices in Edinburgh’s West End, the purchase of the new space means the charity now has a secure and visible shop front ‘hub’ from which to run its face-to face-services. With two floors for the centre itself at 222 Leith Walk and a third level, which will be rented out by Volunteer Centre Edinburgh, the organisation is well positioned for growth and has already seen increases in footfall and enquiries.
Harriet Eadie, Chief Executive at Volunteer Centre Edinburgh, said: “We recruit and place one in four of all volunteers in Edinburgh, who all donate their time to not-for-profit organisations, councils, health boards and the NHS. The new offices are a superb new base for Volunteer Centre Edinburgh and will have a big impact on how we continue to support and develop volunteering in the city, as well as enabling us to become a more sustainable organisation.”
Having recently transferred its banking to Unity Trust Bank, a specialist bank for organisations and businesses that offer community, social and environmental benefit, Volunteer Centre Edinburgh met with Unity’s Relationship Manager for Scotland, Gordon Allan, and Big Issue Invest Scotland’s David Cousland, to discuss the property acquisition. The centre did not have sufficient immediate resources to complete the project on its own but thanks to a partnership between Unity and Big Issue Invest Scotland, the social investment arm for the Big Issue magazine group in Scotland, the Volunteer Centre were able to access a 100% mortgage financing package, whereby Unity lends up to 70% of the purchase price and Big Issue Invest Scotland provides the balance.
Gordon Allan, Unity Trust Bank Relationship Manager for Scotland, said: “Organisations like Volunteer Centre Edinburgh are at the heart of Scotland’s third sector. Owning this new building increases its ability to support community development in Edinburgh in the long term and the 100% loan finance scheme with Big Issue Invest Scotland is an example of how funders can work together to provide flexible borrowing options and enhanced support to create positive social change for our customers.”
David Cousland, General Manager, Big Issue Invest Scotland said:
“We are delighted to be working with Unity Trust Bank to find innovative and flexible solutions that enable valuable projects like this to happen. In this case we were able to fill a gap in Volunteer Centre Edinburgh’s funding requirements, enabling it to purchase its building, providing stability and a permanent base from which it can focus on front line delivery of its services. We are looking forward to working with the centre to support them in delivering even greater impact to benefit society.”
Harriet continued: “It’s really exciting to now be a shop front presence in the heart of Edinburgh and we’ve already seen an increase in drop-in enquiries. This would certainly not have been achieved without the continual support of Unity Trust Bank, both in offering us a competitive loan and introducing us to the partnership with Big Issue Invest Scotland.”