Empty shops find a new use as charity and community space

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CHARITIES and non-profit organisations looking for space are being invited to go shopping.

The charity 3space has taken the former JJB Sports and Littlewoods shops in Bury St Edmunds’ Cornhill Walk and wants more groups to make use of them.

Andrew Cribb, 3space chief executive, said: “We’re providing the link between big business and the community movement.

“We go so someone with a property portfolio, like JJB Sports, and say ‘we’ll take these off your hands and do something with them’. They can carry on seeking a commercial tenant while charities use the premises.”

3space ‘does not do charity shops’ but uses the shop space for youth and educational projects.

One of the Bury shops has been used by the arts charity Smith’s Row for workshops for the mental health charity Mind. From September 26 it will use it for a series of training courses for staff and volunteers from visual arts charities across the east.

Mr Cribb wants more potential users. “It’s being used once or twice a week and we’d like to see it used five days a week,” he said

Most 3space shops and offices are used by more than one charity, but Mr Cribb added: “If someone came to us with a fantastic project and needs it for two months, we’d look at it.”

Mark Cordell, Bid4Bury chief executive, said: “In an ideal world you want long term leases, but if that’s not possible, a charity or short term lease has got to be better than empty premises.”

Charities can apply online at www.3space.org