Homelessness sector fund awards first investments

Two charities to receive a £4.5m Social Investment Fund from Homeless Link.

Young people helping_Doorway garden project

Two homelessness charities have become the first to receive investments from Homeless Link’s £4.5m Social Investment Fund – the only programme of its kind exclusively for the homelessness sector.

Doorway in Warwickshire and the East Anglian Anchorage Trust, both of which support young people experiencing homelessness, have been awarded loans of £35,000 and £25,000 respectively.

The investments will help to support the long-term sustainability of the organisations and increase their social impact, at a time when the sector is experiencing cuts and changes to funding models, and will benefit from diversifying its potential income streams.

Homeless Link, the national membership organisation for homelessness and supported housing agencies, launched its fund for charities and social enterprises working to reduce homelessness across England in May 2017.

The programme is provided through the Growth Fund, which is managed by Access – the Foundation for Social Investment, with funding provided by the Big Lottery Fund and Big Society Capital.

The Homeless Link Social Investment Fund offers organisations flexible, unsecured funding of amounts between £25,000 and £150,000. It is looking to invest the remainder of its £4.5m via a blend of loan and grants and is open for applications at any time.

The aim of the fund is to learn where social investment can be most effectively used alongside other forms of funding to improve outcomes. It is looking to support agencies 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.

Jaishree Mistry, Homeless Link’s investment manager, comments: “I am excited about the difference this fund can make to the homelessness sector, particularly at a time when our members are facing so many challenges, including reductions in traditional sources of funding.

“We were pleased to offer the first two investments to Doorway and the Anchorage Trust, and are confident that they will enhance the organisations’ impacts.

“I am currently working with a number of other agencies that are looking to use social investment to strengthen organisational infrastructure, build capacity and pursue or expand revenue generating initiatives, to agree the next fund beneficiaries. We are also welcoming new applications.”

Case Study – Doorway, Warwickshire

Doorway is a successful, independent charity that works with young people aged 16 to 25 who are homeless or threatened with homelessness in Warwickshire. Its advice service helps them to find suitable accommodation with support. The organisation also runs a variety of activities and events, which aid confidence, build social skills and develop life skills.

Doorway has been awarded a £35,000 social investment by Homeless Link, which is being used to support its long-term sustainability, helping to ensure it can continue to provide much-needed and valued support for over 400 vulnerable young people each year.

The trustees and senior management team had considered various options for increasing Doorway’s financial resilience and identified the benefits of focusing on fundraising capacity. The team was seeking to build upon its excellent local connections by developing strong new funding partnerships with the aim of unlocking new income streams and increasing unrestricted income.

The flexibility of social investment made it the right option for this work, as it is difficult to attract other types of funding for capacity and infrastructure building initiatives.

Carol Gallagher, CEO of Doorway, comments: “Doorway was delighted to be one of Homeless Link’s first social investment recipients.

“We are a small, local charity and our trustees naturally gave considerable thought about whether this was the way forward for us.

“Homeless Link was supportive throughout the process, explaining things clearly and responding to any queries.

“The investment is helping us to progress with our business plan aims and we are now developing our new fundraising strategy.”

Photo: Doorway garden project.

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