Business Model: Meanwhile Space

How the community interest company manages its financial affairs

 

Meanwhile Space is a community interest company that helps social enterprises and charities make use of empty premises in town centres by finding funding, offering legal advice and brokering deals with local councils.

Meanwhile, set up last year by Emily Miller and Eddie Bridgeman, two former employees of the British Urban Regeneration Association, was set up in response to a growing opportunity for charities and social enterprises.

Miller says the initial opportunity to set up a full-time business came about through the Development Trusts Association, which administers a Communities and Local Government department programme for charities and social enterprises that want to use empty town centre buildings. "Everyone was facing the same problems," Miller says. "We realised we could act as intermediaries and use the knowledge we had to solve those problems. This is a relatively new idea, but it's getting popular."

Miller and Bridgeman have worked to make Meanwhile Space into a sustainable business. "We provide services to charities, landlords and local authorities," Miller says. "In particular, we provide de-risking: we handle the lease on an empty space and take on much of the liability. It means a local council or a landlord can support community activities without risking their own cash. We charge developers to find temporary uses for their properties while they obtain planning permission."

She says Meanwhile Space might be able to reproduce its idea regionally. "It's too big for us centrally," she says. "We're looking to develop Meanwhiles in each region."

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