RATHER than talking about the housing providers who continue to lock doors on people, let’s talk about those who are opening doors for community groups and charities.

While our high streets are peppered with empty units and office blocks awaiting demolition sit vacant, many of the community projects and charities desperately trying to plug the gaps that austerity has turned into crevices, are struggling for space.

From foodbanks to language classes, befriending projects to swap shops, our communities are not thriving because of the existence of these providers, they are surviving. And thanks to some landlords recognising that their empty spaces are exactly what these organisations need, the spaces are not only brought to life but the landlord can rest easy that their premises are being maintained.

A vacant unit is vulnerable and not only from the outside. Unknown internal damage from leaking or frozen pipes, vermin, mould and endless other issues that if unreported or unknown cost the landlord huge amounts of time and money to remedy.

Opening up spaces to local community organisations doesn’t just save the landlord time and money but it brings our shared spaces to life again.

I was pleasantly surprised at a recent event with property managers and real estate investors that it is not only the saving of time and money that they are interested in when it comes to opening up their spaces.

They are interested in investing into the community that they are developing in, and they recognise that it is not simply about popping up in the space and running a marketing campaign.

It is about gaining the attention and trust of those who already live and work in that space; it is about investing in the space as it already exists and ensuring that they fit in with the existing culture; it is about starting at the beginning and researching the culture that already exists there.

Whilst they may only be able to offer a charity short-term temporary use of a space, if they get an organisation that either attracts the sort of customer that they hope to one day bring to the area or that highlights to the surrounding community that they have shared interests, then they are a step ahead when it comes to further development.

For the charity what the spaces often lack in permanence, they more than make up for in either presence on an otherwise unaffordable high street or expansion into the size of premises that an organisation could only dream of having a budget for.

With one in 10 high street spaces vacant it makes sense that they be put to good use and more than likely attract interest and investment from someone who can afford them.

There are endless examples of the magic that can happen when a community is given a space that would otherwise sit abandoned. Kinning Park Complex being a casing point, whilst it may be closed at the moment for a well-deserved and hard-earned refurbishment, the building was and will be again soon, alive with kindness, spirit and sharing.

An old school building that was fought hard for by the local community has been turned into a shared space that welcomes hundreds of people each week to share food, entertainment and skills.

The Space in the East End is another stand out example; with its volunteer-run, pay-what-you-feel supermarket and a much-needed dry gig and event space.

It brings an old building alive and creates a haven for the surrounding communities.

Evidence of what people can do with these spaces is not what is needed. It is awareness and understanding of the options available.

Both those with the properties to open up and those on the ground desperately searching for space, need to know that charity leases are an excellent way to prevent unnecessary damage and expenditure in empty spaces and to transform our high streets into thriving community spaces.