The Leeds-based Empty Homes Doctor service has scooped the top prize for innovation at the national Empty Homes Network (EHN) annual awards.
Backed by Leeds City Council, the Empty Homes Doctor service is a free city-wide scheme which provides tailored advice and expertise to empty home owners who want to sell or let their empty home. South Leeds Life reported recently on work they had done with the Hunslet Club to bring a Beeston property back into use.
Working alongside Leeds City Council’s empty homes team, the Empty Homes Doctor service has brought over 100 properties back into use since 2013. The service is run by Social Business Brokers, a Leeds-based social enterprise.
Nick Pritchard-Gordon, chair of the EHN judging panel said:
“The Empty Homes Doctor service is all-about person-centred creativity – with a quick response. It illustrates that so much of our success depends on understanding people. It also demonstrates that we can’t just pick and choose which parts of the problem we should help an owner with. The PR aspect and branding are really important too as is the partnership working with the Council.”
Councillor Debra Coupar, Leeds City Council executive member for communities, said:
“The Empty Homes Doctor really epitomises all that we are trying to achieve as a council while breathing new life into empty homes; we’re being a more enterprising council, working with civic businesses around a clear mandate of turning empty properties back into much loved homes.
“By coming together to achieve this common goal we can make real difference to properties, and ultimately, people’s lives. The service is a brilliant example of galvanising action that we hope to see more of across the city.”
Award sponsor, Carson Millican of Empty Property Solutions noted:
“I’d like to see more local authorities teaming with social enterprises that can provide a specialist service for empty property work. The free Empty Homes Doctor service is a nice touch as the starting point and it seems that social enterprises are best at bringing a voluntary input to schemes.”
The purpose of the EHN innovation award is to recognise creative and original interventions that result in problem long-term empty properties being returned to use.
Social Business Brokers’ Rob Greenland, co-founder of the Empty Homes Doctor service said:
“We’re really pleased to be recognised in this way by empty homes professionals across the country. We’ve worked really hard over the past three years to understand exactly what empty home owners need – to help them to bring their homes back into use. That’s involved us having to think of new ways to work with people – and we’re delighted that this has been recognised with this innovation award.”