Charity Awards 2024

Winner, the Preston Road Women’s Centre

Building the capacity of other women’s groups to acquire properties for safe housing

Winner, the Preston Road Women’s Centre won the Grantmaking & Funding category at the 2016 Charity Awards for its Safe As Houses project to bring derelict buildings back into use as safe, affordable housing for women affected by domestic abuse. As a result of this work, the Hull-based charity became aware that other women’s groups wanted to build their own property portfolios to provide similar services, but lacked the funding and the expertise.

Winner, Preston Road Women's Centre

National women’s organisation conference at PRWC

So Winner persuaded three funders – the Clothworkers’ Foundation, John Laing Trust and the Mercers – to contribute to a grant fund that Winner would administer, to build the capacity of applicant organisations to access social investment in order to buy or lease property.

Each grantee can access two types of support. One type of grant buys them consultancy from Winner to assess the feasibility of their proposals and understand the processes involved, along with introductions to potential investors. A second type of grant enables them to build the internal capacity to press ahead with seeking further funding and implementing the project.

To date, 16 organisations have received grants totalling £224,000, and further investment of £29m has been secured or looks likely. As a result, hundreds of women across the UK have been or will be able to live in safe, supported accommodation, helping them to recover from the trauma of abuse.

The cost to date has been £46,000, which works out as a management fee of 8.2%. In light of the impact and value for money of the scheme, Winner is confident that further grant funding will be forthcoming from the funders in future. The charity is also planning to scale up the grant fund to enable more women’s groups to take advantage of it.

Charity Awards judge Paul Streets described it as a “really innovative, sustainable model that looks very replicable”.

Judge Ruth Davison said: “To be changing the whole model of social housing for the whole of the domestic abuse sector, when you’re a tiny single women’s centre in Hull, is unbelievable. It’s really groundbreaking.”

CC Reg no. 1106884

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