EASTBOURNE VOLUNTEERS WITH HELEN BURTON: Focus on an exciting new social enterprise

Helen Burton SUS-160113-100959001
Helen Burton SUS-160113-100959001

This week I want to tell you about an exciting new social enterprise in Eastbourne. Goscombe Homes is delivering an initiative which provides stable housing for families at risk of homelessness and providing support across other parts of their lives.

One evening in July 2016, a local businessman was called away from dinner to take an urgent call from a friend asking if he knew of anyone who had a had a property which could be made available to a homeless family. He didn’t, but he returned to the table determined to help.

A few weeks later, the first community-funded house was purchased and the Goscombe Homes social initiative started to roll. Realising this was just the tip of a massive social issue. Alistair and Ruth Wickens, the husband and wife founders of Goscombe Homes, set out to buy more property. Particularly of interest were homes which were empty or had fallen into disrepair, using the combined financial resources of friends and family who wanted to help but on an individual level lacked the capital to buy a property outright. Four months later, they bought their second property and are currently purchasing two more, which puts them firmly on track to provide homes at affordable rent to 20 displaced or financially-disadvantaged families across Eastbourne within five years.

In January 2017, Goscombe Homes partnered with the Eastbourne Networx charity providing access to training, mentoring and social support through the local community – a hugely successful partnership which has already placed 75 per cent of Goscombe Homes tenants in a college-based course.

Eastbourne Volunteers asked Alistair to describe the vision. He explained “the vision is a world where investing in a social enterprise is just as attractive as investing in a conventional business. At that point, it’s possible we could see the release of huge capital resources to relieve elements of social deprivation.” Goscombe Homes has already shown this is possible. In their first four months, the business secured £450,000 to buy the first two properties. Funders have been impressed by the vision and the speed at which this enterprise has taken off, using phrases such as “truly inspirational” to describe the model and the initial results.

The great thing about the concept is that it allows an individual to invest in a business with charitable aspirations at its core, backed by tangible ‘bricks and mortar’ assets to achieve a potential return on their capital at a rate which exceeds the current low returns from traditional savings. Alistair commented “It’s like donating cash to a charity but getting your money back with interest after it’s been put to good use!”

Goscombe Homes are currently in talks to set up a professionally-managed Social Investment Fund to raise a multi-million pound fund to accelerate the scheme in Eastbourne and in two other locations across the UK.

For more information visit www.goscombehomes.com, tel. 07876 521097, email: info@goscombehomes.com

If you are running a project in Eastbourne you want to tell us about it email eastbournevolunteers@gmail.com