Business model: Seahouses Development Trust

The Seahouses Development Trust was created in 1996 to provide economic and social regeneration services in the parish of North Sunderland, a remote village north of Newcastle.

Local laundry business
Local laundry business

Seahouses Development Trust is a company limited by guarantee and a charity. In its early years, it funded itself like many other charities, winning grants from local government and charitable trusts, but it has gradually developed to a point where half of its income is earned through trading.

Some of that income comes from local authority contracts and some from renting space in trust buildings to local businesses, says Jon Riley, the trust's chief executive. However, about two-thirds comes from two commercial businesses established in response to local needs: a community accounting service and, more unusually for a charity, a laundry.

"We were approached by local tourism businesses," says Riley. "Being in such a remote location, they were having to make a 200-mile round trip to get their laundry done to a high enough standard.

"We decided that because our grant funding was going to fall, this was a good opportunity. We already had a redundant building on our property that could be used."

Both the laundry and accounting services were set up as separate trading arms in order to limit the charity's exposure if things went wrong. So far, both are doing well.

"We're expecting income to drop off with public sector cuts," says Riley. "We will need more income from commercial activities to keep running."

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