“I think the driver was the fact that we had so many people in poor housing and we weren’t getting very far in terms of supporting them and they were getting lots of barriers around housing allocations and one of the real issues in Redcar, is a real lack of one-bedroom properties. So, it was very difficult to get people moved into something within the social housing provision that we had, which is why they ended up with private landlords.”
Redcar and Cleveland MIND
The case study presents the following key themes:
Redcar and Cleveland Mind is a locally based Mental Health Charity established in 1991. It has a strong volunteer base and a small number of paid staff. Their key focus is working with and supporting people with mental health issues. They receive significant grant funding, in addition to other grants and donations from charities and other sources, and have been delivering service contracts with council for over 20 years. The council recognise that without their support Redcar Mind the service would be at risk of closing which would create an additional financial burden the council would potentially have to cover.
Their funding peaked in 2010/11 at £350,000 but a sudden reduction of core funding to £135,000 in 2011/12 led to a major organisational change and a push to diversify revenue.
Recognising that reliance on grant funding was a risk to their longer-term sustainability they looked to commercial and social enterprise as a means to generate more income. They established a cafe and charity shop – ‘Something in Mind', and the Well4Work scheme, providing mental health training and workforce development to local employers.
In 2013 they took a new step, purchasing and refurbishing property to provide housing. The Empty Homes Community Grant Programme along with expertise and support from a collaboration of partners provided this opportunity.
This may have seemed an unusual move for a mental health organisation, but there were compelling reasons to get involved. Many people they spoke to were reporting difficulties with their current housing situation. Their housing options were mainly confined to the private rented sector and they were in desperate need for decent and affordable accommodation. By getting involved directly Mind could ensure safe and secure homes for those in need of them. This was seen as an opportunity to diversify income and services in a way that would strengthen the organisation and increase housing options for its clients.
Redcar & Cleveland Mind secured £313,000 grant funding through the EHCGP. This plus other funding allowed them to purchase and refurbish 4 empty properties within Redcar & Cleveland. This created 7 tenancies with one of the properties being converted to 4 flats.
The main refurbishment works were contracted out to two small local builders and to the construction services of Community Campus, an experienced Self-help Housing Organisation. An apprentice was taken on to support the work programme and
community volunteers took part at certain stages of property clearance, wallpaper stripping and garden clearance and final decorations to their new
homes. One of the volunteers became a tenant and went on to be employed at Redcar and Cleveland Minds cafe and shop.
Advice and support came from wide collaboration which included the local authority Empty Homes Officer, Community Campus, and the Self-Help Housing, This helped with gaining knowledge and skills and embedding the organisation in the wider housing network. Redcar & Cleveland Mind now provide vulnerable people with a home and generates a rental income that contributes approximately 10% to the organisation’s annual running costs.
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