What we do
We assist people seeking to do the most good they can with their time and other resources (following the principles of Effective Altruism) by providing them with free or subsidised living arrangements — accommodation, board, stipend — at low cost, to enable them to study, research, or work on charitable projects. Our Trustees apply the charity’s funds at their discretion and in accordance with the charitable purposes and objectives of the charity. For details on our grant making, see our Grant Making Policy.
What we expect from our grantees
We require grantees to maintain a reasonable level of productivity in their work, to attend regular check-ins with our Community & Projects Manager to discuss their progress, and and to fill out a monthly survey. For ongoing stays, one page quarterly reports on what they have achieved (considering also the counterfactual of what they would’ve done had they not received a grant), how this matched their expectations from 3 months prior, and what their plans are going forward, are required. We expect progress updates and public outputs for the outputs page to be kept up date by filling out the online documents allocated to them regularly.
If starting new projects, we expect grantees to be aware of downside risks and take appropriate steps to mitigate them.
The first 6 weeks of stay is free (voluntary payment only) for all successful grant applicants: we have a pay-what-you-feel-it’s-worth approach for this period, emphasising that you should pay zero if you’re uncertain of the value of the stay to you, or if you are unwaged or without savings.
After 6 weeks, we request a mandatory (though honesty-based) contribution of £84/week to help cover our costs to be paid by anyone either earning a salary, or with the means to support themselves for over 24 months (following 80,000 Hours’ advice).
After 6 weeks, we request anyone either earning a salary or with the means to support themselves for over 24 months (following 80,000 Hours’ advice) to pay a contribution of £84/week to help cover our costs.
Further details are contained in the Terms and Conditions that grantees agree to abide by on making their application.
“How are applications for free/subsidised places for EAs processed?” For stays of 30 days or under, the Community Manager or any Trustee can make a decision. For stays over 30 days, the Community Manager or a Trustee will conduct video interviews with promising applicants. A report will then be sent to a committee of Trustees and Advisors to score applications on a scale relative to donating the cost of hosting the applicant to GiveDirectly. Space permitting, an estimated expected value of the proposed work of 1x donating the cost of the stay to GiveDirectly is the bar to acceptance for grants of free or subsidised stays. This bar rises with diminishing capacity. A decision to reject or accept the application is made by majority of Trustees and/or Advisors assessing that application. Individual Trustees can veto applications. Trustees and Advisors can also contest applications, at which point there is further discussion and a decision made by the Trustees. See our Grant Making Policy.
“I’m from the US [/other non-EU country], can I get a visa for my stay?” You can check if you need a visa for your stay here. As charity beneficiaries, our grantees aren’t eligible for any special visas such as a Charity Worker visa (T5).
Guests coming from the US can get a six month tourist visa. This has been tested with people arriving from the US into Manchester Airport. Six month tourist visas were granted after an immigration officer asked Greg questions on the phone (they wanted to make sure their stay was paid for and that they wouldn’t be employed in the UK). Read about their account here. Make sure to have a return flight booked.
If coming from Australia, Canada, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Republic of Korea or Taiwan, and aged 18-30, you can get a Youth Mobility Scheme visa. More details here from someone who has recently done this.
“How safe is Blackpool?” Blackpool is pretty safe. The crime rate is a bit higher than the UK average, but a lot of it is just antisocial behaviour (e.g. begging, street drunks). In experience so far it has been fine walking around at night, and not any worse than London or Manchester.
“Will there be any guidance in formulating projects?” It’s expected that guests will largely self-direct their own work, or work with on-site/remote collaborators (although there may be some guidance available, depending on the area of interest, and the number/availability of other people staying who are working in that area). If starting something new, keep in mind this advice.
“I’d like to supplement my income with other, non-EA, work, whilst staying as a grantee, is this ok?” If working on revenue generating, non-EA, stuff, your grant will be reduced by the proportion of time spent on the other work (i.e you would be required to pay something/more toward your stay). This would be in proportion to the standard rate for rooms, up to a maximum allowable fraction of 50% of time spent on other work. So if it was 20% of time spent on other stuff, and standard rate is £25/day, that would mean paying £25*7*0.2 = £35 a week (which is pretty much just the £30 stipend being cancelled out).
“I have funding for my project/work/study, and/or significant savings, can I get a grant for a free stay?” If you are accepted for one of our grants, and you are drawing a salary, or otherwise have a source of stable income, or have greater than 24 months’ runway, you will be asked to contribute toward your stay at a rate of £12/day after the first 6 weeks (first 6 weeks is “pay what you feel it’s worth”), to help cover our costs. See Ts & Cs. If you do not have an income or significant savings, do not feel under any obligation to pay. In fact, much of our counterfactual impact comes from enabling people to do valuable work that they otherwise would not have been able to do!
“I’m a grantee, how can I get my stipend?” If you have a GBP (£) bank account, let us know the account number and sort code and we’ll set up a standing order. If you don’t have a GBP account, please set one up – Revolut is a phone app that is easy to set up and allows you to hold multiple currencies and convert between them commission free, at the market exchange rate (i.e. that shown by Google). If you are from the US, you aren’t (yet) able to open a Revolut account – let us know if you come by a solution for having a GBP account that doesn’t lose anything in conversion (i.e. not PayPal).
“I’m uncertain about dates for my stay (waiting on other applications/decisions). Can I get a flexible placement granted?” Please book dates you think you’d most likely be able to make. These can be amended at a later date subject to availability of rooms/beds (note that dorm beds are nearly always available, but private rooms are not).
“What is there in the way of quiet study space?” Most guest rooms have desks in. In terms of common space, there is the bar, dining room and lounge. So far most people have been using all of these areas to quietly work throughout the day (in the evenings there are communal dinners and games/socialising).
“Who is currently staying?” See here.
“Can my partner stay?” Yes. If you are sharing a room and they are not working on EA stuff, they would be expected to contribute £6/day (to cover food and utilities). They can book here selecting the option “Double/Twin room (visiting a grantee, sharing a room with them) [£6/night]”.
“I have a question not answered here/have an inquiry/would like to offer a suggestion/feedback.” Please contact us here. To leave anonymous feedback, leave the email field blank. You can also use this form to report things that need fixing in your room or make a complaint.
“I would like to chat with you about a proposal for a grant/have a look around.” You can book a call with one of the staff or trustees by following the links at the bottom of the contact page.
Projects supported (list of things grantees have been/are/will be working on):
Setting up an x-risk strategy organisation.
Volunteering – working on the building.
Working on the building and day-to-day running of the project.
Studying AI / Machine Learning.
Researching ways of incorporating subjective wellbeing into health care prioritisation for the next Global Happiness Policy Report.
EA events organising, Human Welfare Taskforce, psychology research.
Moral philosophy thesis on the Demandingness Objection to Utilitarianism.
Transitioning to full-time AI safety research & engineering; reading, writing papers, coding, applying to AI safety grants and jobs.
EA London Retreats (Life Review Weekend, Careers Week, Holiday/EA Unconference).
Studying Computer Science, Maths, Philosophy.
Working on an app for Decision markets.
Anthropics and decision theory research.
Work for the Organisation for the Prevention of Intense Suffering.
Work for European Summer Program in Rationality.
Working on administration for this project.
Suffering-focused EA author collaborating with others.
Researching Infinite Ethics.
Researching Invertebrate Suffering.
Collaboratively setting up an x-risk strategy organisation (Convergence) (2 people).
Writing books on AI (fiction) and Wild Animal Suffering (non-fiction).
Collaboratively distilling AI Safety material for an online course (Road to AI Safety Excellence) (4 people).
Studying Economics, revising for the GRE.
Studying philosophy, writing up explorations of EA related questions.
Collaboratively writing up AI Safety research (2 people).
AI strategy research.
AI Safety research.
Work for Rethink Priorities.
Responding to left-wing / Marxist critiques of EA.
Researching the systematisation of creating impactful organisations.
Internship at Animal Ethics – volunteer research.
Working with Convergence on ops (2 people).
Researching potential effects on society and x-risks from curing ageing.
Research on generalisability of causal effects (whether randomized trials done in one setting are informative for effectiveness in different settings).
Self-studying economics and ML with the aim to apply for PhDs in either of these areas; providing overview of MIRI papers for mathematical philosophers.
Workshopping a technique for targeted mindfulness, attempting to codify Alignment.
Work on developing plans for overlaying liquid democracies.
Self-study Economics and Mathematics before beginning a PhD.
.Most updates are posted to the Facebook group
.See here for a list of concrete outputs
Welfare and Safeguarding
We are committed to safeguarding, and protecting, our beneficiaries, staff, volunteers, guests, and all those connected with the activities of the charity, from harm, abuse or mistreatment of any kind; and promoting their well-being and welfare. Everyone involved with the charity has the right to protection from abuse and be treated no less favourably than others, regardless of age; disability; gender reassignment; marriage and civil partnership; pregnancy and maternity; race; religion or belief; sex; sexual orientation. Our full set of welfare and safeguarding policies and procedures are here.
17 bedrooms (3 single rooms, 2 twin rooms, 10 double rooms, 2 dorm rooms), 12 with en suite.
Bar with seating for 40, dining room that seats 32, and lounge with seating for 12. Whiteboards*, projector and printer. Bookshelves (please bring books to add that you think guests will enjoy). The stereos in the common areas have Bluetooth adaptors attached. To use, press and hold the button on the top of the dongle until you hear “waiting for connection”, then connect to RT-B6 on your Bluetooth-enabled device (phone, laptop, tablet etc). Please switch off your Bluetooth after use to allow others to connect (it automatically connects if you leave your Bluetooth on).
Meals, laundry, cleaning, bedding, towels and basic toiletries provided (provided in the rooms are toilet paper, hand wash, shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, ear plugs, eye masks. On the shelves out the back of the kitchen are more of the room supplies, plus painkillers, anti-histamines, supplements, tampons, moisturiser, nail scissors).
Exercise equipment (behind the bar) – yoga mats, pull up bar, gymnastic rings, parallettes, juggling balls. Please limit long workouts in the bar to before 1200 on weekdays so as not to disrupt others’ work.
Beach stuff (behind the bar are mats, inflatables, towels, games, balls, flip-flops, goggles. By the front door are sunglasses, sunscreen, and umbrellas).
Lost and found – in a box behind the bar.
High lumen overhead daylight lighting (5,500 lumens per LED ceiling tile, 11,000 lumens in bar); soft on-wall/lamp-based evening lighting.
All food provided is vegan, and is free of charge. There is a self-service buffet in the dining room for breakfasts, lunches and snacks. Cooked dinners based on a set menu will be provided in the evening between 1900 and 2000. Please inform staff of any food allergies and intolerances. All food is communal, apart from that stored in plastic bags (in or outside the fridges and freezers). Guests are permitted to consume non-vegan food on the premises, but they will have to purchase and prepare it themselves (please store non-vegan food in labelled bags). Food & drink preparation facilities for guests are limited to a toaster, hot water machines and a combi microwave/grill/oven/streamer and air fryer in the buffet area, and kettles in the bedrooms (feel free to take tea and coffee up to rooms to use with kettle there – use the provided grip-seal bags). The fridge, freezer, cupboards and shelves in the buffet are stocked with buffet food for communal use; the fridge, freezer, cupboards and shelves in the kitchen are reserved for storage and dinner recipe items, please do not eat stuff from them. Please leave dirty dishes on the tray trolley by the buffet.
Shopping is ordered weekly on Mondays, with deliveries on Tuesdays (Tesco), Fridays (Adsa) and occasionally Wednesdays (Ocado). There is a shopping list on the fridge in the buffet for guests to request items/note less common items that have run out. Please note that our food budget is limited to ~£4/person/day, and this should be taken into account when making requests (luxury/expensive items will be limited).
Cleaning & Laundry
Laundry baskets are provided in the bedrooms. Self service laundry is available outside dinner prep hours (as you have to go through kitchen to get to the washing machines and dryers).
Cleaning is done weekly Tue-Thu from 1000, downstairs first and then rooms (from ~1200). Rooms are cleaned – with beds made with fresh sheets, and towels changed – for new stays, and every two weeks for stays longer than two weeks.
Showers & Heating
The plumbing and heating system is somewhat antiquated. Hot water is only available with heating, and not on demand. Hot water and heating are on from 0700-2200. Showers are fed from hot water tanks, so if too many people have showers at once, the tanks run out of hot water and need to be re-heated from cold. Radiators in rooms can be adjusted by the room’s occupant.
Please ensure shower curtains are inside the shower tray to avoid flooding floors.
We have the fastest Wifi available in the area (76Mb/s), but have been finding that it can end up going slow with lots of people using it at once. Please limit video streaming to outside normal working hours, and use mobile data if you have free data available.
In the event of a fire alarm, unless instructed otherwise by staff, you must make your way out of the building immediately via the front door. Do not stop to collect any personal belongings. Everyone should assemble on the opposite side of the road, where staff will take a register to ensure that everyone has safely exited the building. Do not reenter until staff have confirmed that it is safe to do so.
All halls/escape routes should remain completely clear of combustible items and trip hazards. This means no shoes, coats or personal items are to be left in the hallways or on the stairs at any time.
Wedging doors open is not permitted. They must be kept closed at all times.
The fire alarms will be tested weekly. A message will appear in the group chat to notify you that it is just a test.
If you discover a fire, raise the alarm immediately by shouting “FIRE!”. Evacuate the building. When safely out of the building, call the fire brigade by phoning 999.
If it’s safe to do so and the fire is very small (wastepaper basket size or smaller), tackle it with a fire extinguisher (extinguishers are positioned in the hallways and on stairs, and in the kitchen).
Guests are required to adhere to our Code of Conduct.
Guests must also agree to the Terms & Conditions of their stay.
Please return your room key to the key board in the dining room, bring down any power outlet adapters, and check the lost and found box for anything you might’ve left, before you leave.
You can book a stay here. Acceptance of guests is at the discretion of management. There are 4 tiers with different prices, for which spare rooms are prioritised in order:
- Grant Application (working on EA projects): [£0+/night]*
- Visiting a grantee and sharing a room with them [£6/night]
- Dorm room bed (not working on EA projects) [£25/night]
- Double room (not working on EA projects) [£50/night]
*subject to approval by the Board of Trustees if staying over a month. For more details see our Grant Making Policy.
All prices include food (buffet breakfast, lunch and snacks, cooked dinner).
The address is 36 York Street, Blackpool, FY1 5AQ, UK. Google Maps will provide good directions for driving or public transport. Coaches (Megabus or National Express) are generally cheaper than trains, but take about twice as long. Manchester is approx. 1-3 hours away, London, 3-7 hours (depending on mode of transport).
Manchester Airport is the closest international airport.
Car parking is free on the surrounding streets, but it is often hard to find a space during the summer, especially in the day time (although you can nearly always find one within a couple of minutes’ walk after driving around for a couple of minutes). There are car parks on Coop St and York Street that charge £7-£9/day.
For late arrival (after 2200), post to the “current guests” Facebook Messenger chat (you will be added on the day you are due to arrive) when you are outside. If no answer after a few minutes, knock or ring the bell.
Blackpool and the surrounding area
The beach is just two minutes’ walk away, it is 2.5km long and features 3 piers. Walks featuring long horizons are good for thinking. There are many tourist attractions nearby. There is also the picturesque and award winning Stanley Park just a mile inland. The national parks of the Lake District, and Yorkshire Dales, and several Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty are also relatively nearby. Lancaster University – rated Top 10 in the UK – is relatively close by (30 miles by road). Manchester is a bit over an hour’s drive away, or an hour and a half on public transport.
See map below for a selection of local places serving vegan food (green [note there are also countless Fish & Chips takeaways serving chips, curry sauce, mushy peas]), pubs (purple), clubs (magenta), shops (orange), gyms (yellow) and tourist attractions (brown). We are marked in blue.
Things To Do / Group Activities
Dinner in the dining room, daily at ~1900.
Group meeting Fridays after dinner (~2000): announcements, rotas, plan events, talks etc.
Exercise/yoga in the bar, (open windows, put ceiling fans on, move tables and chairs to back, put water jugs and glasses on table, music). See whiteboard in bar for schedule (currently on hiatus).
Pomodoros: 1400-1800 Mon-Fri in the bar.
Hackathon, book club/reading group/working group, peer debugging/Hamming circles.
Lightning talks (new guests are encouraged to give a lightning talk after dinner as an introduction), longer presentations/seminars/workshops.
Walk along the promenade/beach/piers, sitting on the beach steps at sunset, early-morning foot races on the beach, sea swimming, beach day (beach stuff behind bar).
Football, other sports, walking, in Stanley Park.
Cooking, breakfasts, lunches, dinners, board games, drinks in the bar.
Pub crawl, night clubbing.
Blackpool resort pass/tourist attractions.
There are group chat on Facebook Messenger for current guests – Casual chat and Important stuff – and a Facebook group for past, present and future guests, staff and trustees. You will be added to these when you book/arrive as appropriate. Social events are often planned in the Messenger chats.