A new downtown shared space has allowed collaboration within local organizations in order to tackle some of London’s largest social problems such as poverty and unemployment.
Innovation Works has settled into its new home in downtown London at 201 King St., the previous headquarters of London-based GoodLife Fitness.
“We have some pretty persistent issues in our community here in London, just like any other communities and his is to provide a platform to create change and to make London a better place for everybody,” said Michelle Baldwin, executive director of Pillar Nonprofit Network, the backbone organization that’s supporting the co-creation of Innovation Works. “This kind of space is a home for people who want to be around other bright minds and social innovators.”
The shared space has made room for more than 90 tenants, including Fanshawe College, Western University, TD Bank, and the London Heritage Council. The academic partners will give students the opportunity to receive credits through volunteer work at the shared space.
Sarah Lehman, special events and executive administration assistant for the Network, didn’t suspect she would stay in London upon university graduation two years ago, however, the shared space has encouraged her to do so.
“There are a lot of young professionals that don stay in London and we need to really grab hold of them and show them that we can offer professional environments that are also lively,” she said. “We need to be representative of the community and students are a part of this community. Students encompass a large portion of our population here so I think tis also important to stimulate that population.”
The idea of a shared space emerged in 2008, after an influx of people sought out cost-effective ways to save money through employment. The community hub is gearing to launch two additional floors of tenants early next year.