The Fire Station: a pioneering social
Hundreds of London's homeless people will soon be given an opportunity to get back on their feet thanks to our pioneering partnership with the private, public and third sectors.
This autumn will see the opening of Brigade, a bistro, wine bar, private dining and event facility housed in a refurbished Victorian fire station near London Bridge. Profits from this social enterprise will be reinvested into local community programmes.
“The building will give homeless and other vulnerable people a chance to develop catering skills and qualifications – along with the confidence they need to break the cycle of homelessness”, says head chef Simon Boyle. Simon will lead the training under the auspices of his Beyond Food Foundation, a charity that gives vocational apprenticeships to disadvantaged people.
In addition, the building will include space for training 40 social enterprise students a year – as well as world class facilities to help social entrepreneurs build relationships and start up, scale up and spin out their ideas.
We've been instrumental in turning a vacant fire station into a centre for social enterprise and we'll continue to make both volunteers and funding available to the project. The government's Homes and Communities Agency and Big Issue Invest have also committed funds. Other project partners include De Vere Venues, Social Enterprise UK and the School for Social Entrepreneurs (SSE). We've supported the SSE for the past three years, giving bursaries and mentoring over 40 of its students, while also using our network to help the school expand across the UK and overseas.
Our managing partner Richard Collier-Keywood commented: “We're supporting this project because it's a flagship for business and social enterprise partnering and we know it will create a first-class centre for social enterprise innovation. The parties we've brought together really bring that to life.”
David Adair, Head of Community Affairs, added: “Sustainability is all about ideas and finding better ways to do business. So we're directing our community investment more actively towards social innovation, and we're involving more of our people, who are keen to use their skills to really make a difference. It's the perfect area for us.”