Credit crunch 'helps communities'

The economic downturn could lead to an upturn in the fortunes of Third Sector organisations, it was claimed recently. In October, more than 60 voluntary and not-for-profit organisations came together with local authorities and One NorthEast to discuss physical regeneration opportunities available in some of the region's most deprived areas.

At two recent mini-conferences in North Tyneside (hosted by Pentagon Partnership) and Middlesbrough (hosted by the Tees Valley VCS Forum) delegates heard that the demand for Third Sector services is likely to increase as jobs are lost and vulnerable people become needier.

At the same time, the property market slowdown means that land and buildings will be available at a lower cost and within the grasp of voluntary organisations.

Simon Davidson from Tees Valley VCS Forum said: "Buildings can be a great asset: organisations bring disused buildings back into community use and the acquisition of property can contribute much to their financial sustainability - particularly where it can generate an income."

Manager of Pentagon Partnership John McGough said: "The fact that more than 60 organisations came to these events speaks volumes about the desire for organisations to become more sustainable by building or owning property. We've got some great examples of third sector asset development in the North East and hopefully these events will encourage others to go down the ‘physical regeneration' route."

A report entitled ‘The Third Sector and Physical Regeneration in Deprived Communities,' which highlights the opportunities for (and barriers to) Third Sector asset development, was also launched and can be downloaded from www.voluntaryskills.com/regeneration.

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