National Programme for Property Education for the social sector

Feb 02, 2018

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Antonia Swinson, CEO of the Ethical Property Foundation, explains why Property Education is important to all those who are passionate about their social mission.

As we all know, the UK scial sector runs on passion. If we could only bottle it! People work in our sector because they want to serve their community, change the world and make a difference. People like us have a spring in our step and a gleam in our eye.

As the UK’s leading property advice charity, the Ethical Property Foundation works to equip our passionate sector with the practical tools to make the most of its property, whether rented or owned. Our goal is for everyone to understand that property well managed and affordably run, can help deliver miracles even faster and even better!

We are therefore delighted to be working with Charity Bank on a National Programme for Property Education which in 2018, will offer online property support and 14 practical interactive workshops across England & Wales. We will help you to negotiate and manage your lease; manage asset transfers; save money on your premises costs and acquire property with success. Plus, we offer the old favourite Property Management for Non-Property Managers – for all those who are passionate about their social mission but who find it hard to care about the state of the roof.

In 2017, with generous support from Charity Bank, we ran 12 workshops from Caerphilly to Newcastle providing face to face property learning to 154 organisations which supported 407,000 people. Such was the demand, in 2018, we are running workshops in Plymouth, Manchester, Shrewsbury, Grimsby, Bedford, Cardiff, Durham and Newcastle plus six more in London.

With austerity cuts, increasing demand and all the uncertainty of Brexit, there has never been a greater need for voluntary organisations to wise up, husband resources and care for the property their staff, volunteers and clients use each day. Research we undertook with the Charity Commission showed 43% of voluntary organisations have suffered unforeseen property costs, while 45% see property as the biggest threat to sustainability. A staggering 58% also found difficulty sourcing funding for property costs up from 41% in 2014. (Charity Property Matters Survey 2016)

Our National Programme for Property Education therefore is designed to address an urgent and growing need for property education, vital for a sector which often knows so little about property, we simply do not know what we do not know.

To date, workshop participants have asked us about every sort of office premises and every sort of building including churches, former schools, barns, streets of terraced houses, industrial units, fields, oast houses, portacabins, warehouses, libraries, old theatres and former mills. All held by small organisations with no dedicated property staff. Sometimes with no staff at all.

Our feedback suggests that many of the participants have arrived not understanding the importance of monitoring building performance, utilisation and charges. They have recognised that money has often been wasted and taken away from front line services, because they have lacked the property basics. Until now!

Hence our mission is to equip our sector with knowledge and confidence and the understanding that running property well both delivers success and changes the world.

Contact us today if your organisation needs property advice or if you would like a place at a free property workshop near you. These are exciting times for the sector and we look forward to seeing you soon.

Antonia Swinson is CEO of the Ethical Property Foundation, a registered charity and sole referral partner to the Charity Commission for land and property advice since 2015.