From breakfast workshops to charity campaigns: Perch Coworking cares for community

Kane Fulton, October 25, 2019 3 min read

Husband and wife team Andy and Vashti Bedwell opened Perch Coworking in Bicester in the Midlands in February 2018 to provide a flexible working environment for local businesses. The space also provides meeting rooms for workshops and one-to-one meetings.

Now with an onside manager added to the team, Perch Coworking aims to ensure that its members can access a professional, business-related environment in a way that suits them best. It offers a variety of packages to support individual entrepreneurs and larger teams who use it as an alternative to more traditional offices.

Jackie Freshwater, Coworking Community Manager, tells us about how the space supports Bicester’s entrepreneurial community.

What makes Bicester a good spot for tech?

Jackie Freshwater: Bicester is growing so quickly and we have great transport links to Oxford and the innovative businesses that are developing in this area. Bicester is a great central point for anyone coming in from London, Oxford, Cambridge or the west.

What makes the coworking space unique?

Our ethos is to help and support all members of the community whether they are likely to use Perch on a regular basis or just need a base for a one-off community event. We aim to provide a welcoming, chilled space to work and relax. Filled with natural light and high ceilings, Perch feels spacious and airy while offering a comfortable and informal space. We use feature lighting with retro-window frames and wooden floors to create zones. This allows you to choose the right space for you.

What’s the most fun thing about running Perch? And the most challenging?

One of the best things about working here is meeting all of the different people who use us. From sole business owners to teams of people, they all have a different story to tell and have taken a different route to find us as their perfect place to get some ‘headspace’. I love it when I can put people in touch with each other and see how expertise and skills can be shared in a mutually beneficial way – that’s real coworking in action!

Our biggest challenge is letting people know we are here and trying to really show how it feels to be in this space – even the best photos do not do justice to our funky, retro, cool vibe that is still welcoming, relaxing and cosy.

What does your community care about? And how are you helping your members?

Our community cares about supporting each other – our members happily share advice and act as sounding boards. On an external basis, we regularly hold charity events and in the past six months have held campaigns for Dementia Revolution, raising donations for one of our members who completed the London marathon. We also support Comic relief, holding a week-long cake sale and Macmillan coffee morning over the next fortnight.

We also support and promote local Bicester events and provide an HQ in our space every year for the organisers of The Big Lunch. We support our members with breakfast workshops on a variety of subjects, with guest speakers and free breakfast.

These happen at least monthly and we are planning our autumn events now. We also provide a space for all businesses to feature their services and let all other members know what they can provide, creating business opportunities and ensuring that synergy is always recognised.

Do you have any members that you’d like to mention?

We have so many supportive and great members, but Ben has been with us since we opened our doors – he was a sole worker with a social media business for Formula 1 clients; he’s always positive and great to have around. His business has grown now to the point that he has now recruited two people and a third will be starting soon. Rather than look for an office he now has a dedicated desk for his team to use so that they have their ‘office’ here in Perch. It’s a fantastic success story.

What’s on the horizon for your coworking space?

We are always looking at the next project and how we can improve the experience for our members. We are planning to review the space to see if we can create more ‘zones’ for groups to be able to work together is they want to. We will be developing our calendar of social events and well as building our links with local businesses to be able to offer even more workshops and networking opportunities.

Community, South East