Spotlight on the Midlands Unity Trust helps meet funding challenges Charities and social enterprises in the Midlands are at the forefront in tackling some of the problems caused by the decline of the region’s traditional industries and helping vulnerable groups. With our expertise in the not-for-profit sector we have built excellent relationships with many of our customers. The link between Unity Trust Bank and these charity and social enterprise customers is Mark Ferguson and Mark Wilton, our development managers for the region. Relationship manager Nigel Price is also a familiar face to several of these customers that have accessed loan finance from the bank.
Birmingham Voluntary Service Council (BVSC) ’It provides voluntary and community organisations BVSC (Birmingham Voluntary Service Council) is one of the largest voluntary with advice, help and sector support organisations in the UK. resources, as well as It provides voluntary and community organisations with advice, help and championing volunteering resources, as well as championing in the city.’ volunteering in the city. Unity Trust was able to help BVSC in the redevelopment of its Digbeth headquarters, close to the city centre with a loan. The project, which also received grant funding from the ERDF, created new conferencing facilities in a back extension to the building. Since then, the location has become increasingly popular, due partly to BVSC’s closeness to the ambitious redevelopment of the Bull Ring shopping centre. Thanks to a capital grant, the front-of-house area was refurbished to
Nigel Price and Mark Ferguson, Unity Trust talking to Brian Carr, Cheif Executive, BVSC in front of their new premises, with the Selfridges building in the background.
Unity Trust Bank, helping charities and social enterprises develop new ways of generating income.
boost the charity’s professional image and create a modern resource centre for volunteers and organisations. “We hire the conference facilities out to other charities and they have proved very popular, thanks to our central location and the rising profile of this neighbourhood,” says corporate services director Jasbir Rai. “The conference income brings in about £80,000 in profit each year.” says Jasbir. She adds that developing alternative income streams is becoming increasingly important for charities such as BVSC, given the tighter funding environment.
‘We’re very happy with the banking services from Unity Trust because we get a good interest rate without having to constantly shift money between accounts.’ them for loan finance made a lot of sense.” He adds that at local level Unity Trust is the only bank to really understand how a social enterprise l-r Nigel Price, Unity Trust, Steve Walker and works: “A lot of banks may have people in Andy King (ART), and Mark Ferguson, Unity Trust head offices who are knowledgeable, but the local branch staff have a very limited understanding of the sector.” ART’s strategy is to help achieve regeneration of communities by taking a more flexible approach to lending. “We fill the gaps in available finance,” says Steve. Birmingham-based ART (Aston The main challenge for ART and other Reinvestment Trust) is one of the UK’s CDFIs is raising awareness among potential most successful community development borrowers and the referral network, he says, finance institutions (CDFIs). This year so that deal flow is maintained. it celebrates its 10th birthday and has The fact that ART is 10 years old means lent more than £5m in total to small it has demonstrated that its approach businesses and social enterprises in the works and it has established a track record areas that can’t get normal bank finance. in making loans and re-paying money Unity Trust provided a £500,000 loan borrowed from charitable foundations and in January 2006 and recently agreed other community finance organisations. a further £500,000 loan to help ART in “The Unity Trust loan was the first fully its onward lending. Unity’s loans are commercial loan we’ve taken out and it provided with the benefit of community shows how far we’ve come that we’re in investment tax relief (CITR). a position to borrow £1m, as we couldn’t ART chief executive Steve Walker says: have considered that in the early years,” “We’ve always had a very good experience says Steve. with Unity Trust in the other banking services it has provided us, so going to
ART Homes ART Homes is a not-for-profit organisation that provides affordable loans to lowincome homeowners to carry out essential repairs and maintenance. It was set up to fill the financing gap for people who could not access mainstream bank finance and because grants from local authorities for repairs were being phased out. ART Homes recently moved its revenue account to Unity Trust Bank, which also provides an account for the pool of money from local authorities, which ART Homes lends to homeowners. “We’re very happy
l-r Samantha Allin and Graham Wood (ART Homes), Mark Ferguson and Nigel Price, Unity Trust in Victoria Square, Birmingham with the banking services from Unity Trust because we get a good interest rate without having to constantly shift money between accounts,” says programme manager Samantha Allin. She adds that the organisation is also impressed with Unity Trust’s online banking service: “Because we’re notfor-profit we need the security of two signatories for financial transactions, and the internet service offered by Unity Trust allows us to do that.” ART Homes is a member of the West Midlands Kick Start Partnership which had its work recognised recently as winner of the UK Housing Awards 2006 in the category of ‘Excellence in Delivering Mixed Communities’. ART Homes has grown dramatically in recent years. In 2005-06 it made 177 loans totalling £2.6m and in 2006-07 336 loans totalling £5.5m. ART Homes was set up by Aston Reinvestment Trust and is now a wholly owned subsidiary of Mercian Housing Association. It works in partnership with local councils in the Midlands, Merseyside and Edinburgh.
‘Unity Trust is the only bank to really understand how a social enterprise works. A lot of banks have local branch staff have who have a very limited understanding of the sector.’
Community Transport When charity, Community Transport was looking for match-funding of the £225,000 it had raised from European Funding to enable it to buy new premises in Bilston, Wolverhampton, it turned to Unity Trust. Community Transport runs 11 transportrelated projects in England, seven of which are in the Midlands. As well as its passenger services and driver training, the charity runs furniture recycling projects in which it collects items and distributes them to vulnerable groups.
“We went to Unity Trust because we’d moved our current account banking to them the previous year and been very happy with the service, as well as the fact that they’re experts in the voluntary sector,” says head of finance and resources Alan Hoggard, adding that the fact Unity Trust is a Midlands-based organisation helped. “We’ve been doing the furniture recycling for 40 years and income from that helps support our other activities. Community Transport in Wolverhampton has expanded in recent years, so we needed bigger premises and found this property in Bilston,” says Alan, adding that the charity wanted to expand its recycling and training activities. The purchase and refurbishment of the warehouse have enabled the charity to expand its recycling and its driver training. It also allows the charity’s vehicles to be parked in secure parking. Community Transport is repaying the loan with income generated by its services. The warehouse is only the second property the charity has owned, says Alan: “It gives us some further security because it means we now have an asset worth £500,000.”
‘We went to Unity Trust because we’d moved our current account banking to them the previous year and been very happy with the service, as well as the fact that they’re experts in the voluntary sector.’ Headway West Midlands Headway West Midlands, a charity that supports people with acquired brain injury is planning to expand its services after having bought its first property with the help of Unity Trust. In early 2007 the Birmingham-based organisation bought a dilapidated grade 2 listed building near the former Longbridge car plant. The property cost some £200,000 but will need about £350,000 spending on it to bring it up to standard. The move will enable the charity to support 300 more people with brain injuries in the region each year. Headway West Midlands secured around £400,000 funding from a Lottery grant, donations and its own resources but needed a loan to guarantee the project. Treasurer John Barnes says: “We expect to raise further funds from a charitable trust towards the modernisation of the building, but it’s great to know the Unity Trust money is there if we need it.” The charity did not approach any other banks for the loan, says John: “I knew about Unity Trust and that they were experts in the voluntary sector and they were very easy to talk to. We knew we wouldn’t get a better deal elsewhere.” Headway West Midlands is currently carrying out some of the refurbishment and hopes to move into the building in the summer of 2007. “It feels like a big step buying our first property but it will provide more space for our services, as well as giving the charity an asset for the future,” says John.
‘I knew about Unity Trust and that they were experts in the voluntary sector and they were very easy to talk to. We knew we wouldn’t get a better deal elsewhere.’ l-r Nigel Price, Unity Trust, John Barnes (Headway West Midlands) and Mark Ferguson, Unity Trust examine plans for renovating Headway West Midlands’ new building
West Midlands Special Needs Transport West Midlands Special Needs Transport (WMSNT) has banked with Unity Trust since it was set up in the 1980s. “Our trustees liked the fact that Unity Trust had strong links with charities and social enterprises, and with trade unions,” says company secretary John Frater. “We’ve been very happy with our banking from Unity Trust. They’ve helped us structure our accounts so that we receive interest on all but a small proportion of our funds that is needed for day-to-day operations.” He adds that the organisation has always found Unity Trust responsive in adapting its services to meet the charity’s changing needs. WMSNT is the third-largest organisation in the world providing transport for people with mobility problems. Its Ring and Ride service provides around 1.8 million trips a year in the region. A further 200,000 trips are provided for children with disabilities to get to special schools. It is the bank’s biggest charity customer in the region, with a turnover of around £15 million a year. About two-thirds of this is from the local authorities that use the Ring and Ride service, and the rest from commercial contracts. The biggest challenge the charity faces, says John, is getting the best use out of limited resources: “We’re always looking at ways to deliver our services more efficiently and be more cost-effective.”
Headway Worcester Trust
Mark Wilton and Mark Ferguson, Unity Trust either side of Mark Davies, client of Headway Worcester Trust.
The Headway Worcester Trust, which supports people affected by acquired brain injury, has benefited from two Unity Trust loans that have helped the charity expand its services dramatically. In 2003 the charity borrowed around
‘Without the Unity Trust loan, we’d have missed out on that important opportunity.’
Foreground: Nigel Price, Unity Trust and John Frater, West Midlands Special Needs Transport
‘Our trustees liked the fact that Unity Trust had very strong links with charities and social enterprises.’
£150,000 towards the cost of purchasing and converting a bungalow into supported accommodation for four people. Later the same year it borrowed £80,000 towards buying its own headquarters. Treasurer Paul Griffith says: “The acquisition and conversion of the bungalow was important because it allowed us to help people with more severe needs than we would otherwise have been able to do.” The decision to buy premises for the charity was also a change of direction, “We’ve always rented in the past but have grown dramatically in recent years and we were bursting at the seams.” Acquiring two freehold properties was a major step forward that we couldn’t have contemplated without help from Unity Trust,” says Paul. In both cases the timing was right for loan
finance, he adds. For example, when the charity purchased the bungalow it had the promise of funding from the government’s Supporting People initiative. “Without the Unity Trust loan, we’d have missed out on that important opportunity,” he says. In 1990 the charity had two part-time staff, six volunteers and 12 clients. Today’s operation has 55 staff, four housing schemes supporting 68 tenants, an outreach team and a day opportunities facility. Paul says: “The loan finance from Unity Trust made a real difference – it has helped us develop our assets and that has given us extra security. It also means that funders and other stakeholders take us more seriously because they can see we’re here to stay.”
For more information on how Unity Trust might be able to help your organisation, contact: Mark Wilton Unity Trust Bank plc PO Box 1487, Stafford ST16 3GJ Tel: 01785 252586 Email: email@example.com Mark Ferguson and Nigel Price Unity Trust Bank plc Nine Brindleyplace, Birmingham B1 2HB Tel: 0121 616 4100 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Whoâ€™s on your doorstep? Unity has a team of Development Managers around the UK who are focused on looking after our customers needs. Together they have a wealth of experience in relationship banking and are happy to discuss how you can make the most effective use of your banking.
Freephone 0800 783 9650 or visit www.unity.co.uk Each area of the UK has its very own designated Unity Trust Bank Development Manager. Unity is pleased to help a variety of charities and social enterprises throughout the UK not only with their banking needs but also with loans to fund their projects and development. These projects are helping to secure the future of such organisations and therefore the help they offer in their respective communities. Unity commits not only finance but time and energy to charities and voluntary groups. In the course of a year, a number of our Development Managers across the country volunteer an average of 50 hours to advise and support such organisations.
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Each year Unity supports a host of charities & organisations across the UK Supported Organisations Action Station ADSIS Barmulloch Community Development Company Birmingham Focus on Blindness Black Country Living Museum Blakelaw & North Fenham Parish Council Blue Flames Sporting Club Bouncing Back Breakthrough Breast Cancer Brumcan CapitaliSE Carlisle Sure Start CASS Business School CDFA CFDG Citizens Advice Citizens Advice Scotland - CAS Cleveland Ironstone Mining Museum ComeCon Community Transport Wolverhampton Cosgrove Care Cumbria Asset Reinvestment Trust Development Trusts Association East Dunbartonshire Social Economy Network Epilepsy West Lothian Faith based regeneration Network Footsey Conference Glasgow Homelessness Network - GHN Hug in a bag Islington Voluntary Action Council Killingworth Parent Involvement Lanarkshire Rape Crisis Centre Lionheart Make Poverty History Mental Health North East MIND in the Vale of Glamorgan NAVCA NACUW NESEP Newcastle United Womens Football Club North East Regional Alcohol Forum North Tyneside Voluntary Organisation Development Agency Northern Film & Media Nottingham Law Centre PARN
PROP Stress Centre Puppetship Queen Alexandra College Raise Real Lives Real Choices Reality Adventures Works Scotland (RAWS) Regen School SCIO – Staffordshire & Stoke on Trent Consortium of Infrastructure Organisations SCVO Credit Union Show Racism The Red Card Social Enterprise Coalition Social Enterprise Northumberland Spruce Carpets SSEC-SCottish Social Enterprise Coalition Stafford Anglers Association Stafford Furniture Exchange Stepping Stones For Families STUC Taizen Unity – The Union VODA Volunteer Centre North Ayrshire Wallsend Peoples Centre Welsh Women’s Aid West End Housing Co-op West Lothian & District Riding For The Disabled Association Yorkshire Cancer Research
Councils for Voluntary Service Birmingham Voluntary Service Council Carlisle CVS Chase CVS Chester-le-Street CVS Clackmannanshire CVS CVS Networks Darlington CVS Durham City & District CVS East Dunbartonshire CVS East Renfrewshire CVS Edinburgh Voluntary Organisations Council Glasgow Council for the Voluntary Sector K&D Voice Midlothian Voluntary Action Nottingham CVS Richmond CVS SCVO South Downs CVS Stafford District Voluntary Services Stewartry CVS
Credit Unions Chester Credit Union Handsworth Breakthrough Credit Union Ltd Kerrier & The Fal Credit Union North Cornwall Credit Union Scottish League of Credit Unions SCVO Credit Union United Stream Credit Union
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