On the Brink: the benefits of communal living

On the Brink is an intentional community of people who have come together to create a co-housing collective which shares values, resources and time.

A Charity Bank loan supported the renovation of their new Sheffield home, Brincliffe House. Here, Co-director and Treasurer Tom Heller talks about their shared vision for a different way of doing things.

Co Housing Sheffield

“The co-housing movement has been growing in popularity around the world and in the Sheffield area. In 2014, a meeting was held at Sheffield University and this is where the members of On the Brink came together. After various false starts we located a property, Brincliffe House, in the lovely Nether Edge area, a few miles from the city centre. Having sold our own properties and used our savings, we bought the house and began renovations to create our first 12 independent living units.

“The idea behind On the Brink was to create a social and sustainable community that promotes both co-operation and social cohesion. Each house member has their own living space but also benefits from communal spaces allowing them to cook, eat, garden, meet, relax and have fun together. Our community is diverse and multi-generational, with ages currently ranging from 4 to 72. Elsewhere isolation, loneliness and disconnection can be symptoms of individual living, On the Brink offers an opportunity to be part of a larger, mutually-beneficial community instead.

“Shared values underpin our community and a desire to be environmentally friendly is part of this. Using solar panels, recycling, growing our own food and sharing resources such as electric cars are all important elements of our co-housing model.

“In order to complete renovations to a high standard and in line with our ecological aims, we took out a development loan. We looked at several different social lenders, but we chose Charity Bank because they seemed to really speak our language. They understood what it was we were trying to achieve and were engaged with our project.

“Taking out a loan has been a complicated and arduous process, but Charity Bank proved to be flexible and understanding. When you’re trying to do something a bit different, you need a lender who sees things a bit differently too. Sharing an outlook and a vision was key to making this all possible.

“There are so many examples of banking being used for detrimental purposes. As individuals, and as a collective, we would never want to put our money anywhere with unethical objectives. For this reason, we’re grateful to Charity Bank for opening its door to us and for all the people who save and invest with them.

“It’s important for investors and savers to know that while Charity Bank makes loans to charities and other socially conscious organisations such as On the Brink, it is very rigorous and diligent in its processes and covers every angle of risk before choosing where to lend its money. You can be sure that when your money is with Charity Bank, not only will it contribute towards something good, but it will be well scrutinized and looked after.”

Housing Loan Sheffield