SUPPORTERS of a multi award winning Liverpool housing charity came together to celebrate its success and look to its future.
Guests of Housing People, Building Communities (HPBC) heard from speakers including Cllr Ann O’Byrne, Assistant Mayor and Cabinet Member for Housing, Liverpool City Council; Lord David Alton of Liverpool, one of the charity’s founding patrons; and Richard Bacon MP, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Self Build, Custom Build and Independent Housebuilding, which has been following HPBC’s achievements closely.
Even more importantly they got to meet some of the home partners who already live in the first phase of the development, off Kingsley Road, in Granby-Toxteth, some who are about to move into their brand new homes and others who are partway through helping to build the property that will ultimately be their home.
Social worker Joyce Msiska, who’s lived in Liverpool for 20 years, told how she was currently working on site to help build her home. She said: “The idea that I could use the only thing I have – my energy – as a resource, that my own ‘sweat equity’ could get me a stake in my own home, was a godsend. I work hard but have not been able to save enough for a deposit, but because of this scheme I will now be able to own my own home and improve my life and that of my family.”
Cllr Ann O’Byrne told guests the project was about the whole of the community coming together. “It is genuine partnership work – you cannot get more partnership than this.”
And Richard Bacon MP said he hoped that others groups around the UK – including his own rural constituency in South Norfolk - could learn from HPBC’s experiences and achievements. “If we can put a man on the moon 45 years ago, we should be able to make sure everyone has somewhere decent to live today. We should not have a housing problem. Unlocking the energy we already have will make a difference and this scheme is an exemplar and testament to what is possible.”
Richard was later invited to hand over keys to George Anyakwo, who, with his wife Linda and their two sons, will be moving into one of three HPBC houses just completed. The celebration event was timed to coincide with completion of these latest homes and also comes at the end of a 12-month period that has seen the charity win five major awards:
- 2014 National Housing Awards: Most Innovative/Specialist Solution
- 2014 Inside Housing UK Housing Awards: Best Community-led Initiative
- 2014 First Time Buyers Readers’ Awards: Best Housing Alliance
- 2013 Housebuilder Awards: Best Community Initiative
- 2013 Your Move Property Awards: Judges’ Favourite
Rev’d Canon Dr Shannon Ledbetter, Chair of Housing People, Building Communities, said afterwards: “Today is a celebration of our achievements. It’s also a chance to say a collective ‘thank you’ to everyone who’s helped us get this far, including our home partners, volunteers, the companies who’ve worked with us and donated materials, plus the very many local and national organisations who’ve supported us.”
Shannon also used the event to call on politicians and businesses locally and nationally to help the charity secure its future. “We’ve been extremely successful, but our 32 homes here at Kingsley Road are due to be completed by autumn next year and we are now searching for a new site to continue our work, ideally in Liverpool or close by. The land for our current project was donated to us by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese and we have been working with our development partner, Sanctuary Group, to deliver the remaining 23 properties. The cost of our homes is kept low through volunteer labour and donations of materials and gifts in kind by some very generous supporters,” she added.
HPBC home partners spend 500 hours helping to build the homes – known as ‘sweat equity’ - in return for a £10,000 discount on the cost of their new home, which they can then purchase on a shared ownership basis.
As well as Sanctuary, who’ve invested circa £2 million to help fund 23 of the houses, others who’ve contributed to the project include reserve soldiers from the 75 Engineer Regiment, who helped dig drains and build the road; building products manufacturer Wienerberger who continue to donate a large quantity of building materials; and construction group ISG, who’ve held several teambuild days and given professional support.
The celebration event itself was put together with the generous support of several organisations, including Sanctuary Group, Business in the Community, Hugh Baird College in Bootle, Liverpool’s Chung Ku Chinese restaurant and north west based Active Public Relations.