Patch, a company on a mission to reignite UK high streets by empowering thousands of people to “work near home”, has today announced a £3m fundraise and the launch of two new sites which will accelerate its plans to bring community-driven “neighbourhood workspaces” to every high street in the country.
Patch is transforming empty or neglected local buildings into a unique network of innovative, design-led community spaces on local high streets where the public can work, meet and discover local initiatives. These spaces are lovingly regenerated to give everyone – from freelancers to SMEs, working parents and hybrid workers – an accessible and inspiring place to work that’s near to where they live, as well as acting as community hubs for local cultural events and creative initiatives, such as podcast recordings, networking events, pottery workshops and maker’s markets.
Through these “lighthouses for local life”, Patch wants to breathe new life into Britain’s ailing high streets – which have suffered a steep decline in recent years – and help empower communities to rediscover the community spirit and pride which binds and strengthens local areas, as well as benefit from the opportunities these connections can bring.
This investment will enable Patch to expand their network of spaces. With a successful Patch already up and running in Chelmsford, Essex, Patch is set to launch two new locations in Summer 2023; unveiling sites in Twickenham, Greater London and High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire. More launches are planned for 2023 and beyond, with the team aiming to open up to 100 sites over the coming years.
This £3m round included investment from JamJar Investments – the fund launched by the founders of Innocent Smoothies – joined by Blue Wire Capital, Vectr7 Investment Partners LLP, Active Partners (the investors behind Soho House), and Triple Point Ventures.
A number of high street stalwarts have also backed Patch as angel investors, including; Peter Roberts, founder of PureGym; Emma Woods, former CEO of Wagamama; Jeremy Sanders, co-founder of Coco di Mama and Wendy Becker, former CEO of Jack Wills.
This round was also backed by a raft of leading tech angels, including: the CEO of Entrepreneur First, Matt Clifford; Episode 1 founder, Simon Murdoch; Sequoia’s Talent Director for Europe, Zoe Jervier Hewitt; and founder of Fluidly and CEO of Gravita UK, Caroline Plumb OBE.
Set to open this summer, Patch Twickenham is being launched in partnership with the BIG South London programme; a South London-wide drive to unlock knowledge-based economic growth in the area. Located at 42 York Street, Patch is being supported by the local Council to launch the new hub of community opportunity. The space will include a 2,000 sq ft public access space on the ground floor and house a locally-run cafe, pop-up retail space and public library.
In High Wycombe, Patch is breathing new life into a historic former library, which will house a workspace and community hub that takes inspiration from the building’s 1930s features and will provide a dynamic and accessible space for everyone in the local area to use.
The investment will also be used to help grow the Patch team, which is led by its Founder Freddie Fforde, and Head of Product and Creative Director Paloma Strelitz, who is also co-founder of Turner Prize winning design studio Assemble. New additions include former VP for Blackrock Jessi Haymon Gorlov as Head of Property, The Gentlemen Baristas’ Ben Newton as Head of Operations, and James Connop, former Commercial Director Soho House, as CFO.
Freddie Fforde, Founder and CEO of Patch, comments:
“Our belief is simple, that great people are everywhere and they deserve the same opportunities too often sequestered in our major cities. The internet has been enabling this shift to a talent-centric world for a long time but was accelerated by the pandemic. We think this creates an exciting opportunity to ‘work near home’; a more flexible model of working and living that’s accessible to all, unleashing the potential of millions of people in hundreds of towns.
‘Work near home’ means a better balance in our lives, less commuting and more time for our neighbours, friends and family, whilst increasing our confidence in the potential of SMEs and flexible workers across the country. With high streets struggling, Patch has the opportunity to bring hope and good news – facilitating communities to come together, invest in each other and celebrate the very best in ‘local’.”
Paloma Strelitz, Head of Product and Creative Director at Patch, comments:
“At Patch, we’re creating lighthouses for local life: these are spaces that both offer people the flexibility to ‘Work Near Home’ in beautiful surroundings, and that also act as a beacon for the local community – creating opportunities for people to work, connect and discover new ideas in their neighbourhood.
“Each Patch space celebrates what makes an area distinctive and special. We do that through architecture and design, transforming buildings with civic value – like former breweries or libraries into new centres for commercial and cultural life. Then we work to be the best host space possible for the community; inviting a diverse range of local businesses, social enterprises, and charities to use Patch as their neighbourhood base and a dynamic venue to host their events.
Patch’s innovative workspaces are providing greater flexibility to those needing to work remotely, particularly for those with childcare costs, health needs or caring responsibilities. 60% of Patch’s members are parents, and 4 in 5 are under the age of 44. The workspaces enable people to access the benefits of coworking, without the costly out-of-area commute, and to simultaneously connect with and contribute to their local community and high street.