Meet the people bringing life back to the community

Posted: 20th Mar 2020

The empty shops are becoming a creative force across the country!

Businesses have gone bust. They haven’t been able to pay their business rates; they haven’t been able to compete with the convenience and prices available online; the way we buy things has changed so dramatically, so fast, and they haven’t been able to keep up.

Shopping centres have opened not far from the community towns and most of the trade has moved there. Leaving the local shops to collapse because of the fierce competition. Maybe a developer has bought the space and has not figured out what to do with it, or is awaiting planning permission. Whatever the reason, there are a lot of empty buildings here in the UK.

According to a recent report on empty space in London, more than 20,000 commercial units have been empty for at least six months, and 11,000 for more than two years.

That is a lot of space!

Just standing there.

Wind blowing through the cracks until someone decides to do something with it.

Don’t get me started on the small town high streets – it can be a depressing sight. You only need to walk down a discarded high street to feel your energy drain through your feet.  Not to mention it is so wasteful! Especially when so many people are unable to afford somewhere to live or work.

But a movement is stirring to change all that.

The use of temporary licences that allow community groups, small businesses or individuals to move into these vacant spaces and set up shop, on the understanding that they will vacate within a short notice period.

Artists, of course, have long used empty commercial buildings as studios and gallery spaces, but now others are seeing the potential. The uses to which these spaces are put are thrillingly varied, textile designers, tech businesses, charities and so many more are creating socioeconomic value from vacant property.

Here are some amazing organisations that Centric support to create a ripple of positivity in theb community!


A charity that helps feed the homeless and those that are struggling financially. Blessed2Bless cook free breakfasts and lunches every week on a Saturday where those in need can come and eat. They also open our doors every Tuesday evening as a food bank and give out donated food to those in need, items such as cereal, rice, pasta and tinned food. They would love food donations to help people in Birmingham that reach out to them every week requesting food and help because they have no money, roof over their head or are just struggling to survive in this current climate.

Birmingham Playcare Network

BPCN was set up initially to support the play care sector. They operate out side of school hours usually for children aged 4 – 14 whose parents/carers require childcare outside of school hours. They are a member led organisation which includes childminders, early year’s providers and individuals. It is not necessary to be a member to access their services, however resource packs and priority to some training is a member benefit. Services cover all areas of the West Midlands from more affluent to those experiencing severe deprivation.

The VC Gallery

Most of our veterans fair well after leaving the armed forces, suffering no ill effects, entering full time employment and leading meaningful and fulfilling lives. However, some veterans need support to readjust back into civilian life. The VC Gallery is a ‘single point of access’ welfare and support hub for veterans.



All of the clothing has been generously donated by the public through various donation points. The clothing and bedding donated that is not suitable for distribution is sold onto Savannah Rags which can give us an income of up to £100 per month which we use for volunteer expenses. This also prevents any clothing going to landfill.

The Mumpreneur Network MK

This organisation provides support for mums in enterprise to both launch and help their business grow, laser focusing on the challenges that many mums in enterprise face as the all-important woman behind the business. Such as entrepreneurial advice, business development support, access to start-up training and grants. Positive mindset and wellbeing, lack of confidence in one’s ability, isolation, and challenges faced when starting a business as a mother. This amazing network regularly host workshops, training, events, and networking to boost confidence, learn new skills and improve the social impact of many women in hard to reach business sectors and communities. All with the main aim of inviting mums to learn, discover, nourish, and utilise their potential and abilities, to become confident and successful as business owners and women within the community. As a nonprofit community organisation, we have a sole intention to have a positive impact on the female mindsets with a highlighted focus on mums in enterprise

Thank you Centric, landlords, and everyone who’s played a part in establishing this fantastic community resource in Brighton. You’ve made a crucial difference to the development of our charity and the health and well-being of a large number of people in need

Gary Pargeter
Project Manager Lunch Positive