SIX empty units at a soon to be revamped shopping centre are being used by charities - for free.

Swan Housing Association, which owns Laindon Shopping Centre, currently has a number of vacant units which could be used for more worthwhile causes, while regeneration plans are finalised.

After partnering with national charity Centric Community Projects, which helps registered charities and non-profit organisations by providing free work space, Swan were delighted when a number of charities came forward in the hope of securing one of the units.

Each of the charities were offered a unit without charges for rent or rates. Swan are also paying their utility costs of up to £500 per quarter to ensure that charitable use can be made of the space for the benefit of the local community, while detailed plans are drawn up for Swan’s planning approved scheme.

The six charities are the Girls Empowerment Initiative, Solidarity Care, CASS Advice, Wellbeing 4 Life, the Listening Post and Parent4Parent.

Luke Riley, project director for Swan and the Laindon Shopping Centre redevelopment said: “We are committed to the regeneration of the Laindon Shopping Centre and while this work in ongoing, it seemed fitting to make use of the empty units.”

Julie Ion, chief executive and director for Centric Community Projects, said: “There are many charities out there who are really struggling to deliver their services due to the lack of public funds and grants that are available to them.

“We only wish that more landlords would donate their empty premises over to us so that we can help the many other charities that are struggling.”

Alison Cunningham, from the Listening Post added: “By being at the centre, we are able to offer counselling services directly to the local community, ensuring accessibility to everyone, whilst raising awareness of Mental Health issues.

“By having the different local organisations within the centre, it has given the centre back to the community.”