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Building sustainable and resilient communities.

Sustainable communities need a thriving voluntary and community sector. In 19/20 our community Investment Fund provided over £550K in funding for local charities and community projects. In 21/22 this will increase to £600K.

We also have additional funds which local staff can apply for to be invested in local communities: Group charity Places Foundation provides £100K per year to relieve disadvantage and our Touchstone subsidiary provides £30K per year to deliver projects which reduce the impact of homelessness.

Additionally, we work with our supply chain partners such as Travis Perkins, CEF and Civica to create social value investment funds which provides over £150K per year to create lasting change in our communities.  For example: City Electrical Factors (CEF) provided £10,000 to purchase surprise Christmas gifts for over 400 children living in our Living Plus homeless family shelters, domestic violence refuges and other supported living accommodation last year.

We’re also partnering with national charity, Book Trust, to transform lives by encouraging children and families to read and are providing 100s of books to children from low income families.

Supporting foodbanks across the country

Places for People Homes is utilising its Community Investment Fund and Places Foundation is partnering with Group supplier, Travis Perkins, to ensure charities and Community groups which provide essential services to our Customers get the funding they need to maintain or increase services for the most vulnerable.

Colleagues across Places for People, Places for People Living Plus and Places for People Scotland have nominated charities and community groups in their areas that make a real difference to the local Community.

Over 63 front-line projects across England and Scotland including, food banks, baby banks, Community centres and homeless charities will benefit from the £65,500 of social value funding.

One of the recipients of the funding is Edinburgh South East Food Bank, which has been awarded £1,250. The food bank which is run by the charity, Blythswood Care, has experienced a 50% increase in demand since the beginning of the coronavirus crisis.

Started in June 2015, Hebburn Helps Community Food Bank and Crisis Response Team are a voluntary Community organisation that was set up to help local families who are finding it hard and are struggling to make ends meet. The project was nominated for funding by the North East Living+ team as it has supported many of our vulnerable Customers in the past.

Thanks to a £1250 donation from Places Foundation Hebburn Helps were able to support 200 People per week for approximately 5 weeks, with the donation going towards toiletries, food parcels and provision of packed lunch on a daily basis to children of low-income families.

Mill Bank Wellbeing Centre in Preston has received a letter of thanks from the Mayor for the support it has provided throughout the coronavirus crisis by running the Preston City Council Food Hub Service. 

Over the last two months, the centre has supported 1440 families each week with 10,090 food parcels. Each parcel is made up of 12 meals, meaning over 120,000 meals have been provided to some of the most vulnerable and isolated People in the Community.

With the support of Preston City Council and FareShare Food Bank, our Living Plus colleagues at Mill Bank have been making up the parcels and delivering to People in need. 

The letter from the Mayor highlights the city's appreciation of the support being provided to People when they need it the most.

St Paul’s Adventure Playground, Bristol

In what has been a difficult year, the team behind the St Paul’s Adventure Playground in Bristol suffered greatly in the spring of 2020, when their facility was set on fire. Thanks to the support of Places for People’s charity, Places Foundation, the playground was brought back into use – giving local People a much-loved facility at a time when they needed it most. 

Guy Dobson runs the playground, a rare fixture in this area of Bristol which is lacking in outdoor facilities for children: “We were devastated when the fire happened,” he explains. “We endured a period of mourning, ourselves and the Community really felt the loss of this much used and much loved public space – there just isn’t much like this for our young People.” 

As an open access playground, it had been providing exciting play opportunities for children aged 8 – 13 years old, with features including large play structures, swings, zip wire, football and basketball court, and a large play area. The playground also had fun Community facilities including a gardening area, fire pit and BBQ shack. 

Thanks to the partnership with Places Foundation, much of that is back in use. Guy continues “So much positivity has come out of the renovation project, not just Places Foundation’s support in financially contributing to our rebuild, but we’ve also secured help from local celebrities to raise awareness of what we do. Massive Attack’s Grantley Evan Marshall AKA Daddy G and the BBC’s DIY SOS’s Mark Millar all starred in our fundraising video too. It’s given us the motivation to make the new playground bigger and better than before!”

Located next to the M32 and beside St Agnes Church, it played a much-needed role in this urban area to encourage families within the neighbourhood to spend time playing and exercising outdoors. It sits within the heart of a Places for People Community meaning Places Foundation colleagues were acutely aware of how the area had already been hit by the recent challenges of austerity and cuts. Working alongside partners, including Acumen Waste Services, the APE Project CiC, the team wanted to support the rebuild, recognising its role in the long-term sustainability of this Community. Places Foundation prioritised funding to ensure that the renovation of this outdoor public space could once again have a positive impact on the health and wellbeing of local residents.

The collaborative project has also taken on the good will of the active local Community who have campaigned on the APE Project CiC Facebook page for young People and children to begin sending in ideas for what they want the new space to look like, as part of the £250,000 re-build. 

Tony Hannon, PFP’s Community Investment Fund co-ordinator adds: “The playground has in the past played such an essential role in providing this Community with a safe outdoor space to help develop children’s physical, emotional and psychological wellbeing – something that is central to our social impact ethos. So, we absolutely had to lend our support and provide St Paul’s with funding to rebuild and re-establish this facility.”

Rachel Davies, co-managing director APE Project CiC, concludes: “2020 has taught us all a lot about how valuable an outdoor space is for any Community and the benefits of play. In light of both the COVID restrictions and the destruction of our playground, we have received so much feedback about know how important it is to all who have ever come used it. 

“We are incredibly excited to see how the plans come together to create our fantastic new space.”

Funding boost for Big Issue Invest

Big Issue Invest has benefitted from a £325k investment boost from The Places Foundation to support up to 20 social enterprises in England and Scotland over the next five years. 

The first round of investment has, in turn, been distributed by Big Issue Invest to nine social enterprises to support them in tackling a range of social issues including young people’s mental health, youth inclusion and social isolation.

For example, Hey Girls, a Scottish based social enterprise tackling period poverty through the distribution of free sanitary products was one of the successful recipients.

Support communities

Established in 2017, Hey Girls tackles period poverty by giving a girl or woman one pack of products for every pack bought. Over 137,000 children in the UK missed school due to period poverty in 2018. 1 in 10 girls have had to improvise sanitary wear due to affordability issues. In the past twelve months they have donate 2.4 million products.

Celia Hodson, founder of Hey Girls said “We are delighted to receive support from Big Issue Invest which will enable the company to grow and expanded our social reach. The support both financial and non-financial has been fundamental to our achievements to date”.

Danyal Sattar, CEO at Big Issue Invest, said “It is great to be working alongside Places for People. This is a new and exciting relationship which gives us the opportunity to reach and support more Communities across the UK. As part of the Big Issue Group with a focus on homelessness we recognise the important role housing associations play in helping to turn around disadvantaged Communities. This is a partnership which focuses on the core social mission of both our organisations”.

Making a difference

Marcus Hulme, Social Value Director, Places for People said: ‘Our partnership with Big Issue Invest enables us to provide additional finance to support a wide range of social enterprises that use creative approaches to make a real difference to their Communities. The Places Foundation which is supported by the Places for People Group aims to help people to fulfil their potential. The additional finance will be used by Big Issue Invest to provide loans for up to 20 social enterprises over the next five years. The investment builds on our existing commitment to the Corporate Social Venturing programme which has been a great success’.

Other supported social enterprises include:

Talking Mats, that provides tools, training and research for speech therapists received £75K.

£40k -Link Redcar CIC based in Redcar which provides therapeutic services to children, young People and families across the North East

£150k - FC United of Manchester is a community benefit society football club owned by members.

£75k - A Place to Call Our Own is an independent special school and alternative education provider

£257k – Wolverton Community Energy is a Community benefit society based near Milton Keynes.

£55k - Campus Skate Park in Bristol.

£135k - Running Deer, Devon based, set up to support long term unemployed People.

For more information, visit

Supporting Scottish social enterprises

Nineteen early-stage social ventures across Scotland have been supported by a programme set up by Big Issue Invest and co-funded by Places for People, Scottish Government, University of Edinburgh, Aberdeen Standard Investments, Experian and Brodies.

Big Issue Invest's Power Up programme, a lending scheme offering investment, support and mentorship to early-stage social ventures across Scotland, launched its 2020 Impact Report revealing that 19 social business have been supported to date with a total of £870,000 of investment. Alongside Big Issue Invest, Places for People and the other programme partners delivered pro-bono support exceeding 3,500 hours. The estimated monetary value of time investment from Partner Organisations in kind (through mentorship, panels, pro-bono support given) equalled over £384,000.

Eradicating homelessness

The Blankfaces was one of the 19 social enterprises that successfully completed the three-month Power Up Scotland Programme in 2020. The Blankfaces is the UK’s first fashion label aimed at eradicating homelessness. Each design is inspired or created by a homeless person, which forms the backbone of its clothing range. A percentage of every product sold goes directly back to the homeless participant who has shared their story, and 100 per cent of the profits go towards ending homelessness.

Gerard McKenzie-Govan, Founder, The Blankfaces, said: “We have had a long-standing relationship with Big Issue Invest, working closely with their team and even sharing an office space in their Glasgow premises. Their help with Power Up Scotland pre-Covid and during lockdown meant we could keep growing as a business and even open our first shop at 427 Great Western Road! We’re excited for the future.”

Improve the lives of disadvantaged young people

Other social enterprises supported by the programme include Projekt42, the UK’s first wellness centre to combine personal training, group fitness, yoga and mental health services and Scran Academy which works to improve the lives of disadvantaged young people through a cooking school. Both ventures are based in Edinburgh.

Sara Hawkins Director at Projekt42, said: “The Power Up Scotland programme provided a range of support from marketing through to legal advice, which has been invaluable to Projekt 42. Two years on, we are still benefitting from the support networks the programme enabled us to put into place.”

Creating social impact

Danyal Sattar, CEO of Big Issue Invest, said: “We have been inspired by these 19 organisations we have supported with both the investment and the business development expertise that they needed in order to make an even greater difference within their communities. It is our Partners and the valuable social enterprises who go on to create social impact.  We could not have done it without them.”

Marcus Hulme, Director of Social Value at Places for People, said: “The organisations have shown that with the right support the vital work that they do can have a significant impact on individuals and entire Communities. It is important that businesses continue to support social enterprises in whatever way can so some of the biggest challenges in society can be tackled by those with the expertise and knowledge to take those important steps. We are really pleased to have been able to support Big Issue invest and the 19 organisations who have benefitted from investment, mentoring and support.”

View the 2020 Impact Report, or for more information, please visit

STAR (Sustaining Tenancies At Risk) Service

The introduction of Universal Credit has caused issues among many renters in recent years. Welfare reforms have made it more difficult than ever to afford rent, add to that the financial implications of a global pandemic and it’s easy to see why so many people across the country need help.   

In 2020, Places for People prioritized its Customers in this position thanks to investment from its Places for People Community Investment Fund. The fund reached out to vulnerable Customers, ensuring additional support that would enable them to enjoy a secure a better and more settled life – and some peace of mind that they could remain in their tenancies long-term.

The £168,000 funding by the Community Investment Fund was used throughout 2020 to put tenancy sustainment initiatives in place. This was achieved through the STAR Service. STAR – an acronym of Sustaining Tenancies at Risk – is a large-scale UK-wide project but with an initial focus in the North East, North West, Yorkshire and Bristol. 

“Places for People recognised that tenancy failures were often caused by not addressing the wider support needs of Customers,” says Places for People’s Tony Hennon. “We were compelled to proactively invest in the STAR intervention service to try and relieve the burden.” 

Delivered by Living Plus and exclusive to Places for People homes Customers, STAR was developed to reach out to the most vulnerable Customers and set up a support programme to get them back on track and remain safely in their homes.

The Community Investment Fund ensured four members of staff were employed full time to focus on each geographical area selected. Established to help turn vulnerable Customers lives around, the STAR staff had four main areas to focus on; preventing eviction, providing financial help including assistance with benefit entitlement, signposting customers to outside agencies, helping them with complex needs, tackle mental health issues, and help them better manage their home. 

Although a multi-faceted programme – the main aim for the STAR Service was to deliver improved outcomes for Customers and neighbourhoods with a direct impact that would reduce business costs, resulting in additional funding being available for further Community Investment Fund initiatives.  

“STAR isn’t about statistics – it’s about supporting our extremely vulnerable customers in times of hardship but, saying that, we know that housing industry research shows the average cost of a lost tenancy is £5k per household, plus unmeasurable loss to the family or individual affected – therefore STAR works to solve the issues as a whole, resulting in long-term sustainable tenancies and Customer wellbeing and stability. 

“Customers may be at risk due to the results of loss of employment, mental health issues, drug or substance abuse or other life changing events which result in an inability to support themselves. The Customers we help via STAR are referred by local PFP staff – and anti-social behaviour is often why they are highlighted and is a frequent reason for referral. It’s about getting to the route of the problem, together, and working out how to keep the Customer on the right path and ultimately remain in their property.”

The Community Investment Fund has so far committed over £150,000 to its customers via this programme. The STAR team helps on average 80 people at any one team – approximately 20 Customers per region. 

“Each specialist and dedicated support worker carries out an individual customer assessment.” continues, “this is then developed into a personalised support plan, alongside the Customer, to deliver targeted interventions that enable Customers to maintain their tenancies. The plan is set for six months and during this time, concerns such as rent arrears, property damage and anti-social behaviour are addressed, with the aim of rectifying the issues during this time – of course, in exceptional circumstances, the support is continued to assist our extremely vulnerable Customers who need the added time to get back on their feet.

“It’s not just about keeping a roof over their head – we are supporting vulnerable Customers with long-term support including help to improve their financial position, property condition and increasing positive Customer engagement overall.”

Any support plan should be reviewed on a regular basis to ensure it’s working. To date, the STAR service has proved successful in both supporting Customers and providing financial business gains – resulting in an increased availability of funding to help more Customers than ever. 

Tony explains further: “The STAR service has been so successful in helping vulnerable Customers sustain their tenancies that the programme has already paid for itself. 

“An investment like this is about supporting our customers. The spiral of homelessness is wide-reaching; when our Customers lose their home they can end up in greater debt, with substantial costs needed to get back on their feet. This investment is the best way of ensuring that everyone is supported and Customers can stay in their homes.”

“So far, to reach our customers in in the North East, North West, Yorkshire and Bristol, the Community Investment Fund has provided £168,000 to run the programme but has resulted in savings of around £400,000. The savings are being allocated to further programmes around the business to improve the lives of our Customers during 2021 and beyond – and we cannot wait to hear more good news and successful Customer stories.”

For more information on the STAR service visit: INSERT LINK and to find out more about the ongoing work the PFP Community Investment Fund.