Published: May 19, 2020
Region: Yorkshire and the Humber
After securing a seven-figure loan from Unity Trust Bank, award-winning Leeds-based Canopy Housing is preparing to add five new properties to its current portfolio, which will house vulnerable adults in the region.
This funding package will enable Canopy Housing to move closer towards its aim of purchasing fifteen new homes for residency over the next three years.
The not-for-profit, self-help, social housing organisation was founded in 1998 to tackle homelessness and unemployment across the Leeds region, whilst improving local communities. Through the renovation of empty properties, Canopy Housing provides high-quality, safe and affordable residential options for vulnerable people who are homeless or threatened with homelessness.
New tenants, with the valuable support of community volunteers, are given the chance to decorate and refurbish Canopy Housing properties that will eventually become their home. With the opportunity to make new friends, gain greater confidence and a personal sense of achievement, this experience allows individuals to acquire useful employment skills in light building work, plastering, painting, decorating, carpeting and tiling.
Working with more than 80 volunteers on housing projects in 2019, Canopy Housing has also provided advice, support and training to help individuals find further work.
Having a long-standing relationship with Canopy Housing since 2014, Unity Trust Bank, the commercial bank with a social conscience, has previously provided several funding packages amounting to a total of £380,000. This latest ethical loan from Unity, together with capital grant funding from Leeds City Council and Land Aid, enables the organisation to purchase five 2 and 3 bedroom properties which, when renovated, will house up to ten participants currently on the waiting list with Canopy Housing.
Since 2007, Canopy Housing has doubled the size of its portfolio to 74 properties. Unity Trust Bank’s support has initiated the first stage of its overall expansion plan to create an additional 15 homes over the next three years.
Michael Wicks is a relationship manager at Unity Trust Bank. He commented: “Leeds City Council reported a 367% rise in the number of rough sleepers in the city from 2010 – 2017. This highlights the increased importance of the valuable work being undertaken by charities such as Canopy Housing.
“The funding to aid this new phase of development is a representation of the commitment Unity Trust Bank has made to supporting businesses which improve the quality of life of individuals and communities.
“Canopy Housing’s own values are strongly aligned with our ethos of helping to create a better society. We look forward to continuing our work to build upon what I am sure will be a long and meaningful relationship.”
David Nugent has been the Director of Canopy Housing since 2017. He said: “The support from Unity Trust Bank will have a positive impact on our ongoing growth. The funding is helping us to continue to change the lives of vulnerable people.
“As well as the financial backing from Unity Trust Bank, we have appreciated the wider business advice and support received throughout the process. Michael Wicks, our relationship manager at Unity, has been great to work with.
“Thanks to this loan, we’ve been able to accelerate significantly our housing development programme. We’re able to increase our staff and activities in the Leeds area too. Additionally, the funding allows us to positively engage as well as support more local people into training and jobs.”
David Nugent said: “We now have a solid source of external funding which will help us over the next three years. This will allow us to develop social housing properties in the Harehills, Richmond Hill and Burmantofts area of Leeds.
“In the longer-term, we would also like to identify and acquire a bigger office building in Harehills. Doing so will help us further focus our efforts in and around Leeds.”