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Charity Bank loans £750,000 for the blind

Patrick Crawford, chief executive, Charity Bank
Patrick Crawford, chief executive, Charity Bank

A bank that helps good causes has loaned £750,000 to a charity that is changing the way it supports blind and partially sighted young.

The loan to the Royal London Society for Blind People (RLSB), founded in 1838, was one of 16 loans worth around £4 million approved by the Tonbridge-based bank in the first half of the year.

The bank, backed by investors keen to support good causes, only loans to charities, community organisations and social enterprises.

It backed the RLSB loan over two years to support its strategic switch from providing direct education to supporting young people within mainstream schools and colleges and to help them live independently in shared but supported accommodation.

The loan is being used to bridge the costs of preparing the sale of Dorton House, the residential educational establishment in Seal, near Sevenoaks, for blind and partially sighted young people. It will also be invested in a new fundraising scheme to finance a new London headquarters.

RLSB also intends buying properties in London and the South East for supported living houses, replacing its nursery in Sevenoaks, and creating the first of a proposed group of learning hubs.

Tom Pey, RLSB chief executive, said: “We needed an investment of capital to allow us to get from one point in our strategy to another, and we were lucky to meet Charity Bank who understood our position from a charity perspective. The bank was very clear about the fact that if it gave us money it was to make impacts for those we serve, and it took a lot of care in ensuring that we were able to demonstrate this.”

Commercial banks had mostly declined its bid for an open-ended bridging loan. “But Charity Bank, being a specialist lender to the charity sector, understood that actually taking this type of risk in lending is very acceptable. That’s quite a clever thing for them to do because in fact the default rate for loans in the sector is miniscule. So, they know their market and they are able to lend into it.”

Charity Bank’s chief executive Patrick Crawford said: “Charity Bank is a community - made up of the people who work for the bank, its borrowers, its depositors, its investors, and its other supporters -that shares the view that it’s worthwhile to support charities and social enterprises on capital projects on a sustainable basis. That makes it a most unusual bank, where everyone connected with is has the same objectives.”

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