PlaceShapers welcomes five new members

The network announced plans to include community-based providers last year.

Woman in a yellow t-shirt holding a model of a house

PlaceShapers has welcomed five new members to its growing network.

As announced, its newest members are Westward Housing, Orwell Housing Group, Berneslai Homes, Unity Homes, and Vectis Housing Association.

Berneslai Homes is the first ALMO (Arms-Length Management Organisation) to join after Placeshapers expanded its membership from housing associations to include other not-for-profit social providers last year.

PlaceShapers chair Sinéad Butters said: “We are delighted to welcome our five new members. As PlaceShapers, we unite around shared values. All members are committed to developing communities and helping people to thrive in their local neighbourhoods.

“We expanded our membership because we wanted Placeshapers to be the national network bringing together the values-driven social housing sector to create a unified voice.

“We wanted others that share our ethos to make us a stronger organisation with a broader base and links into more networks.

“Berneslai is our first ALMO but, of the three organisations that we are currently talking to about joining, two are ALMOs.”

Placeshapers has also revised its fee structure – making it easier for smaller organisations with fewer than 1,000 homes to join by reducing the fee to £500.

Landlords with between 1,000 and 5,000 homes pay £2,000 and those with more than 5,000 homes pay £3,000.

Berneslai Homes CEO Amanda Garrard said: “I am keen for Berneslai Homes to learn from and work with members of PlaceShapers.

“I am pleased that the decision has been made to open up membership to ALMOs and delighted that Berneslai Homes is the first member of the newly expanded membership.”

Westward has 7,500 homes in the South West – predominantly Torbay, Torridge, and Cornwall – and also incorporates Horizon Homes, the commercial development arm building new homes in the region.

CEO Barbara Shaw said: “I want Westward to engage with housing providers who are passionate about being a landlord and truly want to make a difference to those they provide homes to.”

Orwell has just under 4,000 homes across Suffolk, the southern part of Norfolk and North Essex, with one specialist homeless hostel for vulnerable young women in Cambridge.

It has a large number of supported-housing schemes and provides care and support in its own schemes.

CEO Wendy Evans-Hendrick said: “Orwell is a traditional, community-based association embedded in the communities in which we work.

“We have recently reinforced our purpose of remaining an organisation which invests and values its customers and communities, and the members of Placeshapers appear to share that same ethos, and we feel that it is important to collaborate with similar organisation in order to achieve the maximum outcome for our customers.

Unity, with 1,300 homes, is an independent BME-led housing association, said to be committed to improving the lives of people in areas with higher BME population in the Leeds City Region.

Unity CEO Ali Akbor said: “We are committed to the principles of PlaceShapers. Networking and sharing with organisations with similar values and beliefs can strengthen all our commitment to communities we serve.”

Vectis Housing Association has 420 homes on the Isle of Wight. Its private leasing scheme includes an arrangement for nominations from the Isle of Wight council for homeless households.

On joining the PlaceShapers network, CEO Martyn Pearl said: “The challenges to deliver homes and services that cater adequately for the needs of their residents, many of whom are struggling financially, is becoming greater.

“We aim to be innovative and proactive in developing measures to support sustainability and wellbeing.

“However, as a small organisation, our capacity to develop expertise in key areas of specialist provision is limited, and through PlaceShapers we will engage with and learn from other organisation who may have already developed initiatives and/or are interested in working in partnership to do so.”