More than £1 million in community shares have been raised to create safe and supportive homes for vulnerable adults and those at risk of homelessness in the South West.
Mustard Seed Property (MSP) leases residential buildings to charities and social enterprises in Cornwall that help vulnerable adults find their feet. It was set up in 2007 as a community benefit society to solve a problem for families with autistic children.
“As the parents were getting elderly and the children becoming adults, we saw there was a need to provide accommodation and support for them while giving them some independence,” said MSP Founding Director Liz James.
To buy their first property, MSP raised £300,000 from a few dozen people, a local charitable trust and a bank. Subsequent property purchases and renovations were made possible thanks to successful community share offers.
A share offer in 2018 raised almost £350,000. And another in 2020, raised a further £610,000 – including £50,000 match funding from the Community Shares Booster Fund.
Thanks to these share offers and support from the Booster Fund, the organisation now has three properties that they lease to partner organisations providing supported accommodation to more than 20 adults with a range of needs each year.
Karrek Community is one of those organisations. It provides homes for people with learning difficulties. Newquay Lighthouse Project is another partner and provides supported accommodation for people recovering from addiction.
St Petrocs is a charity that leases MSP’s property in Helston; to provide accommodation, support, advice and training to those who find themselves homeless. Liz has seen first-hand how their work is helping people.
“I’ve been to visit and spoken to the tenants there,” she said. “They were so pleased to have a home and to be surrounded by a friendly group of people to support them – and help them on their way to moving into their own rented accommodation.
“Our property leased to Newquay Lighthouse project is another half-way house that provides a wonderfully safe environment where people recovering from addiction can help and support each other to grow in confidence and find their own individual place in the world.”
For Liz, it’s a rewarding vocation providing support that helps others lead better lives. “It’s wonderful,” she said. “I’m part of empowering people who don’t usually have a voice. People who are ostracised and misunderstood, on the edges of society.”
MSP is currently planning another share offer with a view to building on their great work. “We want to be connecting with people who are interested in what we are doing, so that we can go forward and buy another property.
“It’s a lovely thing to be involved in a community benefit society because it combines local people who want to help their local community but also opens up investment to others who are interested in the same sort of thing.
“We’ve got grant funders, individual people in the local community and people from abroad who like investing in these enterprises and we’ve got a wide variety of people involved in it now.”