UK-based Patch is on a mission to breathe life into the highstreet by connecting new approaches to work and life with a community-led approach. The startup has just secured €3.4 million to support the development of the project.
While approaches to work have changed dramatically over recent years, the rise of remote and hybrid working is something that now defines the workspace. For some, this means staying at home on out-of-office days, for others, it means going to a co-working or maybe even a cafe.
Now, there’s a new option – one that is community-driven and impact-led, aiming to connect people in local hubs. UK-based Patch has a vision of regenerating highstreets to become more connected and more lively, by empowering people to ‘work near home’ in neighbourhood workspaces.
Freddie Fforde, Founder and CEO of Patch: “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.”
The startup has just secured €3.4 million to fuel its mission and support the launch of new hubs. The round included investment from JamJar Investments, Blue Wire Capital, Vectr7 Investment Partners LLP, Active Partners, and Triple Point Ventures. Angel investors include 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.
Peter Roberts, Founder of PureGym, comments: “We are at a pivotal moment for our high streets. We need to back bold, creative, and innovative companies like Patch if we want to reignite local areas and transform them for the better. There is so much talent and potential in every corner of the UK and Patch is creating a new way for that talent to thrive. I’m proud to be backing this brilliant team and can’t wait to see Patch spaces open up on every high street over the next few years.”
Founded in 2020 by Freddie Fforde, Patch takes empty or neglected local buildings and transforms them into community spaces where people can work, meet and discover local initiatives. The spaces are regenerated to give everyone – from freelancers to SMEs, working parents and hybrid workers – an accessible and connected place to work that’s near to where they live, alongside spaces for community and cultural activities, local businesses and events.
Freddie: “‘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’.”
Patch Academy facilitates a range of activities, from educational talks, roundtable discussions, networking events, workshops and away days. Patch Market hosts more informal, interactive events, including talks, screenings and pop-up markets.
Paloma Strelitz, Head of Product and Creative Director at Patch: “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.”
Since the startup’s initial launch in Essex, over 5000 people have attended over 200 events. It’s reported that 60% of Patch’s members are parents, and 4 in 5 are under the age of 44, and the initiative is helping provide greater flexibility to those who need to work remotely addressing any of the challenges that come along with this style of work, notably the lack of connection. In addition, the workspaces enable people to access the benefits of coworking, without the costly out-of-area commute and does so whilst bringing life to local high streets.
Paloma: “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.”
This new investment will be used by Patch to expand its network of spaces. It’ll also be used to expand the team and further develop the vision.
Jon Wright at JamJar Investments: “There has never been a more important time to support and nurture our local communities. Work and home need no longer be mutually exclusive concepts, and while remote working helped bring them closer together during the pandemic, we now have the opportunity to add community into the equation too.”
“Patch is leading the charge on this by unlocking access to flexible working, collaboration and community in one place. By bringing this to the local high street, they are breathing new life back into local economies, while supporting people to work near home and re-engage with the places they live. We are looking forward to supporting Freddie and his fantastic team as they further their mission to bring flexible, community-driven working to every UK high street.”