City’s affordable work space collaboration with Islington Council, Better Space, officially opens for business, supporting local social enterprises, small businesses and helping residents gain vital skills and experience.

By Matthew Little (Communications Officer), Published

The affordable workspace at The Ray Farringdon will be run by City, University of London in a 10-year partnership with Islington Council, where we will share our knowledge and experience with the wider Islington community, bringing benefits directly to our local area and residents.

The prime office space, with 6,000 sq ft on the ground and lower ground floors of The Ray Farringdon will act as a social enterprise hub in the borough.

Through this partnership, City will be able to provide specialist support to social enterprises, strengthen the wider business community, develop business networks and promote businesses working for social good.

Launch of Islington's Better Space affordable workspace (L-R) - Catherine McClen (BuddyHub); President Professor Anthony Finkelstein (City, University of London); Cllr Asima Shaikh (Islington Council) and Joel Davis (Tutors United)
Launch of Islington's Better Space affordable workspace (L-R) - Catherine McClen (BuddyHub); President Professor Anthony Finkelstein (City, University of London); Cllr Asima Shaikh (Islington Council) and Joel Davis (Tutors United)

Better Space had an official launch event on Thursday 21st October, with a celebration including networking, local food, music and speeches from City staff, Islington Councilors and Better Space residents.

City’s Better Space Team have been working hard to build relationships with the local area and develop capacity to deliver a range of social value initiatives to benefit local people, businesses and communities.

Our partnership with Islington Council allows us to play a major role in strengthening and creating opportunities for local people in our home borough of Islington.

City was first established to serve Islington’s communities in craft, trade and entrepreneurship, so it is fitting that so many years later we are continuing to do this important work through Better Space.

Better Space is a collaboration of education, social purpose and creativity which supports real people in the borough. This is only just the start, and we will continue to work with Islington Council to help build and develop our great community.

– Professor Anthony Finkelstein, President of City, University of London
A photo of Better Space with orange walls and glass rooms.
The office facilities at Better Space

Cllr Asima Shaikh, Islington Council’s Executive Member for Inclusive Economy and Jobs, said:

“Better Space and Islington’s other affordable workspaces are a key part of the council’s Community Wealth Building programme, bringing local jobs and businesses in a thriving local economy for Islington.

We’ve created Better Space, in partnership with City, to provide specialist support to social enterprises and social impact businesses – businesses that have communities at their heart.  This will help drive forward our work to create a more equal Islington.

– Cllr Asima Shaikh

“By creating a social enterprise hub, the council is delivering on its commitment to support alternative models of enterprise ownership, helping to create a more democratic economy.

“The pandemic caused major challenges for Islington’s communities. Better Space is a shining example of how we can adapt and rebuild a locally inclusive economy, so wealth is more equally shared across our communities.”

"It feels like Islington"

Start-up social enterprise BuddyHub, which offers a ground-breaking approach to tackling loneliness, particularly among older people, is one of the eight teams and organisations already working from Better Space.

It’s still early days but a really great community is developing here and it’s leading to great things.

I’ve worked in several co-working spaces to date but so many factors make this one the best. The space has all the facilities you need. It’s very well situated with great transport links which is important for us as we do in-person meetings with many of our members here.

It’s affordable which is vital for social businesses in the early years. I’ve been delighted by the diversity of people I’ve seen coming into the space already: it feels inclusive, it feels like Islington. It’s a great place to be.

– Catherine McClen, founder of BuddyHub
A photo of desks and pictures at Better Space.
Shared working facilities at Better Space

Tutors United, a social enterprise which works with housing associations and local schools to provide literacy and numeracy support for primary school children and their families, was founded by Islington native, Joel Davis. Now having supported over 2,000 families across the UK since 2012, including 70 families in Islington, they also work from Better Space.

After a year of remote working, Better Space has been perfect for us as we've looked to adopt a more hybrid working environment. The packages are really flexible and easy to distribute amongst the team to suit meetings and working preferences.

– Alina Monaghan-Gibson, Head of Programmes at Tutors United

Notes to editors

For more information and updates about Better Space:

For more information about entrepreneurship at City see CityVentures.

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