As well as operating as an independent charitable foundation funding voluntary and charity groups and research, we also have two subsidiaries helping us to achieve our mission of tackling poverty and inequality across London - Resource for London and Bellingham Community Project.
Resource for London
Resource for London is a registered charity and the largest centre for the voluntary sector in London. Founded in 1993, it provides the not-for-profit sector with serviced office space accommodating 20 organisations as well as conference and training facilities, meeting rooms and exhibition space. Each year over 1,500 meetings and events are held at the Centre. The day-to-day management of the building is provided by the Ethical Property Company.
Resource for London, the registered charity, was established by the City Parochial Foundation (now Trust for London) of which it is a subsidiary. Managed by a Board of Trustees, it leases the building from Trust for London to whom it pays rent. Any surpluses generated from the building are used to tackle poverty and deprivation in London.
Resource for London is located in the former Jones Brothers department store on Holloway Road. The City Parochial Foundation bought the store in 1952 for £290,000 from John Lewis who then took out a 99-year lease. The lease was handed back to City Parochial Foundation in the early 1990s and a decision was made to turn the building into a resource centre for voluntary sector organisations to use at affordable prices. This came about as a number of charities had contacted the Foundation as they were concerned at the rapid rise in office rents in London.
With the enthusiastic support of London Voluntary Service Council, which needed new offices, a detailed plan was developed. Many funders gave generously to equip the Centre and the Foundation met the capital costs of the conversion. It was an immediate success from the day it opened.
Between 1993 and 2008, the offices were fully occupied and the meeting space was heavily used for conferences and events by the voluntary sector. However, the financial crash in 2008 had a considerable impact on tenants with many having to downsize or close. By 2010, the charity was losing large sums annually and there was a real threat to its survival.
Since 2010, the Board was strengthened with a new team who were determined to breathe new life into the initiative. The Board appointed the Ethical Property Company to manage the Centre including employing all staff and leading on the marketing of both the office and meeting space.
Over £2 million was spent to bring the facilities up to date. Having been the ‘Resource Centre’ from its inception, the Centre was rebranded ‘Resource for London’ to echo the renaming of its parent (Trust for London).
The cafe was moved to street level, the reception opened up and new meeting rooms created. A big drive was undertaken to attract charities to occupy the office space whose core purpose was addressing poverty and inequality in London. This was successful and by 2013 the office space was once again full with charities like Hibiscus, Race on the Agenda (ROTA) and Student Action for Refugees (STAR). This success has continued with over 1000 events taking place in the Centre in 2019 and Resource for London is once again seen as a key hub for the charity sector in the capital.
Resource for London measures it’s social impact through the provision of good quality, affordable office and meeting space to charities and in addition, we set ourselves targets around improving the effectiveness of the voluntary sector in London through both our space and through special projects that we deliver directly. This includes the Enhance Project which funds free deskspace and capacity building for smaller BAME, LGBT+ and Traveller groups based in the capital.
COVID-19 has inevitably had a major impact on Resource for London’s work but support has been provided to Tenants with free one-to-one online Funding and Business Planning, and Strategy sessions. The building re-opened for meetings in September, having attained both 'Aim Secure' and 'Good to Go' accreditations from Visit England and the Meeting Industry Association.
Bellingham Community Project
Bellingham Community Project (BCP) is a small charity in Bellingham, one of the most deprived wards in Lewisham. The charity has been embedded in the local community since 1993. It works in partnership with statutory and voluntary bodies and the community to develop health and leisure projects which meet local needs, at prices the community can afford.
The Bellingham Community Project Ltd is a registered charity. It was established by the City Parochial Foundation (now Trust for London) of which it is a subsidiary. It is run by a small voluntary Board of Directors, employing two staff. A sub-committee also exists consisting of key local figures to ensure the charity can network effectively within the local community.
In the 1900s, Trust for London had an interest in buying and maintaining several important green spaces, coined the ‘lungs of the city’, to ensure that Londoners had access to good quality outside space. These included Coram’s Fields in Bloomsbury, extending Hampstead Heath, and the Bellingham playing fields in Lewisham bought in 1930.
This 12-acre site in Bellingham, made up of a sports hall built in 1977 and buildings dating from 1932 to 1962, was a thriving sport, youth and social facility in the 1980s but begun to decline as leisure habits changed. When BCP was first established in 1993 to manage the centre, the charity realised that facilities were no longer fit for purpose and, after consultation with the local community, feedback was that they were no longer benefitting the community as a whole.
The key priority for BCP was to create something that really met the community’s needs whilst keeping prices affordable. In 1999, they took the decision to demolish everything on the site and start afresh. Whilst this was a substantial challenge, BCP worked with many individuals and partners including the people of Bellingham and a group of around 40 local agencies to make the vision a reality. Major funders came on board including Trust for London, the London Borough of Lewisham and Sport England, and they received generous support from the commercial sector including pro-bono legal advice from Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer.
In April 2004, having raised over £5.5 million of charitable, local authority and lottery funding, the Bellingham Leisure and Lifestyle Centre was opened, making a significant contribution to the regeneration of the local area. The funding included a £1.2 million capital grant from Trust for London, which has continued to grant support BCP thereafter.
BCP decided the new Centre needed to be managed by a professional leisure centre contractor and raised an additional £500,000 to cover the management fee for 10 years.
Within its first three weeks of opening, 1500 people visited the centre to either enquire about membership or to join, and various community schemes and sports clubs became regular features, benefitting from the top-of-the-range facilities. As a Healthy Living Centre, it is maintained as a local environmental space as well as a sports centre and community venue.
In 2005, BCP raised £450k towards the costs of building a new youth facility on the site, passing the grant and subleasing land to Lewisham Council to enable the construction of the Youth and Community Gateway Building. It is now the headquarters of Lewisham's youth service provider (Youth First) and a much needed provider of activities for the youth of Bellingham.
In 2014, Lewisham Council agreed to include the Leisure Centre in its Leisure contract portfolio and to guarantee the revenue the Centre needed. The centre has become a fantastic resource for the local community along with employing local people who are paid the London Living Wage. BCP’s promise to keep costs low for local people means that they continue to raise funds for the centre whilst supporting their continued wider work within the local community with a focus on the elderly and children with special educational needs.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the leisure centre remains closed. BCP have provided information and advice on community activities, befriending services, mutual aid groups, food banks and practical assistance to Bellingham residents, as well as worked in partnership with Lewisham Council and the NHS to provide a regular mobile COVID-19 test site at the leisure centre.