Friends of The Earth
For 40 years, Birmingham Friends of the Earth has been demonstrating, resourcing and campaigning for positive environmental change locally, nationally and globally. This work has been enabled and supported by operating from The Warehouse, a community environment centre in the heart of the city, which has also provided meeting rooms, office space and trading premises for a range of social enterprises, charities and campaign groups.
In 2016-17 the organisation reached a turning point in its long-standing plans to refurbish the building, to improve the financial, social and environmental value of the space. It became apparent that the major work necessary to deliver this transformational project could not be completed without substantial investment - not just in the building work but also in their capacity to manage such an ambitious plan.
We supported Friends of the Earth Birmingham (a Community Benefit Society) via the Big Potential programme, by helping them develop the scope of the vision to create a meaningful proposition for new member investors and via hands-on support with the business plan. The resulting community share offer in April-June 2017, called “Unlocking the Warehouse”, successfully raised £185,000 (including match funding) from around 90 investors. We also assisted them in successfully applying for a substantial equity match from the Community Shares Booster programme.
What do these funds and new investors mean? In their own words: “On this building’s old warehouse floorboards are painted the last 17 years’ campaign slogans, leached through the banner fabric, and are stacked piles of campaign materials no-one can bear to throw out. This building has sent thousands of willing volunteers off to Glastonbury and welcomed them home mud and all. This is the building where people offer each other help when they know things are hard, and is so much more than a building. This building’s Victorian brickwork and holey roof shelter so much that is brilliant, help so much change to happen, and will soon be stronger, greener and better.”
A Community Benefit Society in Birmingham