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Later life as it should be – how our capital markets lawyers helped

May, a resident at Belong Village Wigan. Linklaters supported Belong on their recent Retail Charity Bond issue to raise funds for two new village sites.
May's story 

Dancing queen May’s days on the dance floor looked like they were over when a serious hip injury left her in a wheelchair. Determined to regain her mobility, she embarked upon a rehabilitation journey at Belong Village Wigan. With the help of specialist fitness instructors and state-of-the-art facilities such as SilverFit virtual reality equipment, she was back on her feet and dancing by her 100th birthday.

Pioneering dementia care

May is a great illustration of why an innovative and pioneering dementia care village model works. Belong Limited is a not-for-profit that runs villages representing a radically different alternative to conventional care homes, with open plan design and no segregation according to people’s diagnosis, ages, backgrounds or funding. Each Belong village encompasses a vibrant hub for community activities, with facilities that include a licensed bistro, hair salon and exercise studio with many areas and services open to the public so it really feels like a village community. The village model is a stunning example of how advanced design and very high standards of care can provide a new quality of life for older people. May’s Belong Village in Wigan has recently been recognised for identifying the importance of the exercise instructor role in supporting the mobility and independence of residents in a dementia care setting.

“The exercise programme has changed my life. I never thought I would be able to walk again, but thanks to my fitness instructor, Ryan, and the amazing facilities in the gym, I don’t have to hang up my dancing shoes just yet.”

- May, resident at Belong Village Wigan

The challenge

As a not-for-profit organisation, any of Belong Limited’s surplus is reinvested into its award-winning services, people and facilities. The challenge has been how to access capital investment to fund construction of further villages, and so achieve better outcomes for more of the rapidly growing number of people in the UK living with dementia. This number is set to rise to over one million by 2025 and two million by 2051, according to Alzheimer’s Society statistics.

Innovative social finance

Enter the Retail Charity Bond platform, which is now helping numerous charities each raise millions of pounds in medium term unsecured loans from retail investors. Linklaters supported Allia to devise the structure of the platform and innovate solutions to complex tax and regulatory challenges. We provided a significant level of pro bono support for Belong in its recent Retail Charity Bond issue that raised £35 million towards financing the construction of two new village sites.

“With high demand for the Belong village model, we continue to look at ways to expand our portfolio and this successful bond issue is allowing us to develop further villages across the UK”, says Tracey Stakes, CEO of Belong.

“Linklaters provided invaluable guidance as part of the team taking us through our first experience of a retail charity bond and helped make it a smooth and effective process.”

image of belong village, wigan

“The Belong Retail Charity Bond is a prime example of how our social finance practice is uniquely placed to bridge the gap between the charitable sector and the financial sector in a mutually beneficial way. The Retail Charity Bond platform gives us the opportunity to use our high-quality legal skills and broad network to efficiently connect charities like Belong with the broad investor base that are keen to invest in projects advancing social development, whilst giving our lawyers the valuable experience of working on new and innovative transactions.”

- Hannah Charlton, Managing Associate, Linklaters

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