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Collaborative loan finance helps secure new volunteering hub in Edinburgh

Press Releases Published: July 27, 2015 11:16 am

A volunteer centre linking over 30,000 volunteers each year with valuable work experience has opened its doors to the public in new offices in central Edinburgh. Volunteer Centre Edinburgh, which supports people seeking work experience for employability, older people who want to volunteer, people with mental health problems, and more, has purchased 540 square metres of property and office space thanks to loan finance from Unity Trust Bank and Big Issue Invest Scotland.

Due to the proposed demolition of its previous rented offices in Edinburgh’s West End, the purchase of the new space means the charity now has a secure and visible shop front ‘hub’ from which to run its face-to face-services. With two floors for the centre itself at 222 Leith Walk and a third level, which will be rented out by Volunteer Centre Edinburgh, the organisation is well positioned for growth and has already seen increases in footfall and enquiries.

Harriet Eadie, Chief Executive at Volunteer Centre Edinburgh, said: “We recruit and place one in four of all volunteers in Edinburgh, who all donate their time to not-for-profit organisations, councils, health boards and the NHS. The new offices are a superb new base for Volunteer Centre Edinburgh and will have a big impact on how we continue to support and develop volunteering in the city, as well as enabling us to become a more sustainable organisation.”

Having recently transferred its banking to Unity Trust Bank, a specialist bank for organisations and businesses that offer community, social and environmental benefit, Volunteer Centre Edinburgh met with Unity’s Relationship Manager for Scotland, Gordon Allan, and Big Issue Invest Scotland’s David Cousland, to discuss the property acquisition. The centre did not have sufficient immediate resources to complete the project on its own but thanks to a partnership between Unity and Big Issue Invest Scotland, the social investment arm for the Big Issue magazine group in Scotland, the Volunteer Centre were able to access a 100% mortgage financing package, whereby Unity lends up to 70% of the purchase price and Big Issue Invest Scotland provides the balance.

Gordon Allan, Unity Trust Bank Relationship Manager for Scotland, said: “Organisations like Volunteer Centre Edinburgh are at the heart of Scotland’s third sector. Owning this new building increases its ability to support community development in Edinburgh in the long term and the 100% loan finance scheme with Big Issue Invest Scotland is an example of how funders can work together to provide flexible borrowing options and enhanced support to create positive social change for our customers.”

David Cousland, General Manager, Big Issue Invest Scotland said:

“We are delighted to be working with Unity Trust Bank to find innovative and flexible solutions that enable valuable projects like this to happen. In this case we were able to fill a gap in Volunteer Centre Edinburgh’s funding requirements, enabling it to purchase its building, providing stability and a permanent base from which it can focus on front line delivery of its services.  We are looking forward to working with the centre to support them in delivering even greater impact to benefit society.”

Harriet continued: “It’s really exciting to now be a shop front presence in the heart of Edinburgh and we’ve already seen an increase in drop-in enquiries. This would certainly not have been achieved without the continual support of Unity Trust Bank, both in offering us a competitive loan and introducing us to the partnership with Big Issue Invest Scotland.”


Notes to editors

About Unity Trust Bank

Unity Trust Bank is a bank for organisations and businesses that create social, community or environmental benefits in a way that is financially sustainable for the UK economy and wider civil society. The bank seeks to put social change at the heart of everything it does and provides tailored day-to-day banking and finance to charities, social enterprises, co-operatives, CICs, voluntary and community organisations, trade unions, councils, housing associations and more.

Unity Trust Bank is a Living Wage accredited employer. The first bank to do so, this confirms Unity’s commitment to paying its employees the UK living wage or more. It also holds the Fair Tax Mark in recognition of its fair and transparent accounting approach.

For information and advice on sustainable finance and banking services, please contact Unity Trust Bank at or visit

About Big Issue Invest Scotland

Big Issue Invest Scotland (BIIS) is the ground breaking investment choice for Scotland’s social entrepreneurs. BIIS brings together the Big Issue’s influential investment arm, Big Issue Invest, and DSL Business Finance, Scotland’s not for profit lender with an impressive 21 year track record of grassroots investment.

BIIS helps prevent poverty and creates opportunity by backing sustainable social enterprises, charities and community ventures.

BIIS provides investment from £5,000 to £1.5 million and understands first-hand how to develop innovative finance solutions. It is driven by commercial common sense and a desire for positive change.

For information and advice on social investment, contact David Cousland or Nicola Cosgrove at Big Issue Invest Scotland on 0141 425 2930 or

For further information, please contact Unity Trust Bank PR consultants:

Anna Hollis: / 020 8533 8893

Rachel Pidgeon: / 020 8533 8893


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