​Arts & Culture

Bobby’s Bournemouth welcomes social impact startup Patch and its ‘neighbourhood workspace’

By Staff Reporter [email protected]

Published: May 23, 2024 | Updated: 23rd May 2024

Patch, a social impact startup looking to reignite UK town centres, is set to bring its community-driven ‘neighbourhood workspace’ to Bobby’s Bournemouth.

Patch logoThe £2 million Bobby’s project represents a long-term vision to revitalise the department store, formerly occupied by Debenhams, and support local business growth.

With a thriving ecosystem of independent businesses, creative energy, and a strong sense of community, Bournemouth was identified as the perfect place for Patch to launch a new home for local entrepreneurs, creatives and community builders.

Opening this autumn, Patch will offer design-led coworking and offices with spaces for community and cultural uses across Bobby’s first floor.

The workspaces have been designed to promote connection across the business community, including tech startups, creative industry businesses and social impact organisations.

Patch will provide a new hub for the South Coast’s startup community, offering a series of boutique offices for two to 20 people.

The space also includes a coworking studio overlooking Bournemouth Square and a residents’ study with dedicated desks in the building’s most historic wing.

When fully occupied, Patch will be home to 20 companies occupying private offices and approximately 500 coworking members.

The design of the space respects the building’s original features, including wooden floorboards, ornate pressed metal ceilings, and large arched windows that fill the space with natural light.

But it also features superfast Wi-Fi, contemporary furniture, ergonomic chairs, electric standing desks, second screens, focus booths for private work, complimentary bean-to-cup coffee, and plenty of plants.

Freddie Fforde, founder and CEO of Patch, said: “Our aim is to create the best place for startups and small businesses to thrive on the South Coast.

“As a local landmark, Patch at Bobby’s will serve as an iconic hub for entrepreneurs, creatives, and community builders, offering fantastic workspaces and a dynamic environment for work, collaboration and connection.

“As a B Corp, Patch is committed to being a force for local good, and we’re excited for people to come together in our space to support business growth, town centre revitalisation, and community empowerment.”

Freddie Fforde, founder and CEO of Patch, with creative director Paloma Strelitz

Patch is keen to provide flexible spaces for remote workers, working parents, and those with caregiving responsibilities.

Currently, 60 per cent of its members are parents, with the vast majority under the age of 44.

Coworking membership starts at £24 a month, excluding VAT.

The startup plans to establish partnerships with Bournemouth’s universities and offer scholarships to local students, providing them with access to these spaces.

As a creative hub, Patch will also support a network of makers, creatives, and community groups.

A 3,800 sq ft public space will feature multi-purpose event spaces, meeting rooms, a podcast studio, and a wellness studio.

Access to the studios and meeting rooms will be bookable by the hour, accommodating individuals and groups organising events ranging from creative writing classes and cinema clubs to sewing workshops and startup summits.

Paloma Strelitz, creative director and head of product at Patch, said: “We have a vision for the ‘future of work’ that supports people in building brilliant careers in their hometowns.

“This involves creating spaces and opportunities for multidisciplinary communities.

“Patch at Bobby’s will be home to tech entrepreneurs, designers, accountants, lawyers, therapists and life coaches.

“Whether you have an office for your team, are holding a one-on-one life-coaching session, or hosting a public workshop in our studios, we hope this dynamic ecosystem will create opportunities and enjoyment for everyone.”

Patch will be led by a director with the support of two community and events executives, each of whom will focus on building connections with members and local residents.

Ashley Nicholson, director at Verve Properties and the landlord behind Bobby’s, added: “We’re delighted to welcome Patch into Bobby’s.

“There’s a great synergy between the two organisations who both feel a responsibility to rejuvenate the town by bringing new life into it.

“We’ve actively encouraged local artists and entrepreneurs into the building from day one because we know how important a thriving cultural and business scene is to Bournemouth’s success.

“Working with Patch has enabled us to open our doors even wider and we can’t wait to welcome everyone in.”

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