Local charity Charterhouse-in-Southwark, which has been active in the borough since 1885, has announced plans to become a funding body rather than a direct provider of community services.
Charterhouse-in-Southwark was established by old boys of Charterhouse School in Godalming in 1885 to support people living in one of London's most deprived areas.
Today it provides educational, health, care and youth services used by more than 600 people in Southwark.
Now the charity plans to sell its three buildings in Tabard Street and Crosby Row and invest the net proceeds to generate an annual income which can be spent on charitable activity in Southwark for generations to come.
"By releasing money tied up in bricks and mortar, we will be able to continue helping the most vulnerable members of our community, not just for the next few years, but as long as there are people in Southwark who need our support," says Armel Cates, chairman of the board of trustees.
"We and Southwark have changed a lot since we were founded back in 1885. What hasn't changed is our desire to help the neediest members of society. This is a way of making sure that we target our help where it is most needed rather than spending money propping up old buildings."
Charterhouse-in-Southwark has also announced that it is in talks with the charity Training for Life who are likely to take over the young people's centre, the Chipper Club playgroup, the Bangladeshi Health Project, counselling and crèche services.
"We are delighted to be working on this proposal with Training for Life," says Cates. "We look forward to bringing it to a successful conclusion following consultation with affected staff. It will lead to much better sporting and recreational facilities for the 300 or so young people who use our youth centre – something that we cannot currently provide. We expect there to be improvements to our other services too."
Chris Dick, chairman of the Downside Settlement, also welcomed the proposal: "I know that the youngsters of the Downside Fisher Youth Club will offer a truly warm welcome to the young people of Charterhouse-in-Southwark," he said.
Charterhouse's plans to cease direct service provision marks the end of an era for the settlement movement in North Southwark, and follows the Downside Settlement's similar decision to hand over its day-to-day work to a third party.
St Hugh's, the Anglican parish church for West Bermondsey which shares the Rainbow Building, will not be affected by the changes in the short term. There is now a possibility of a new, improved church being built if the Rainbow Building site is redeveloped.
Charterhouse-in-Southwark is also seeking a purchaser for 39 Crosby Row, home to the Arc nursery. The charity says that the nursery has been operating on a commercial basis for some time and therefore no longer fits naturally with its charitable mission.
In the meantime Charterhouse-in-Southwark will continue to run the Arc so there will be no immediate change for current parents.
"One hundred and twenty-three years after we were founded, the work of the charity is needed more than ever," said Cates. "This proposed move means that we will be able to carry on that work well into the future. It is the best way of being true to our founding spirit and of helping the local community in the 21st century."