Leeds empty homes pledge fund launches as Beeston conference looms

“Help us transform empty houses into family homes,”Leeds Community Foundation Chief Executive, Sally-Anne Greenfield has urged ahead of a Beeston conference to tackle the city-wide problem.

Leeds Community Foundation is supporting Social Business Brokers’ ‘Call to Action’ on empty homes campaign by opening up a new empty homes pledge fund designed to raise money to transform empty and abandoned houses into family homes.

The fund aims to raise an initial £45,000 – a sum which Leeds Community Foundation estimates is needed to turn a crumbling empty house into a liveable home – and is calling for pledges of either cash donations to buy specific household items or ‘pledges in kind’ from businesses and organisations keen to help with the physical transformation of an empty home.

The Fund opens with a cash donation of £10,000 already secured and the Foundation hopes that – by the time of the Call to Action event at Beeston’s Greenhouse on the 16th of May – it can announce that the full amount has been reached, and that a specific home has been earmarked for transformation.

Sall Ann Greenfield

Chief Executive of Leeds Community Foundation Sally-Anne Greenfield says:

“Renovating and kitting out a single home is just the beginning. We want to build city wide momentum behind this ‘call to action’ initiative so that we’re transforming streets of empty houses into family homes – and we’re calling on people throughout Leeds to help.

“We already work with a number of social enterprises involved in property refurbishment and management.

“It’s a brilliant model – they use paid staff working alongside volunteers to do up empty properties and they then become social landlords for the families that move in.   These families have often been living with friends or in hostels and, for the first time, they have somewhere to call home.  At the same time, the refurbishment work gives the volunteers really valuable skills and often results in them getting a job, or moving back into employment.  It’s a win-win all round.”

Leeds Community Foundation is a charity dedicated to bringing about real and lasting change in local communities.

The Foundation has created an online ‘wedding style’ list of goods and services that are needed to make an abandoned house liveable again such as house building services, white goods, roof tiles, crockery, doors and windows – which together can be as much as £45,000.

The campaign is calling on individuals and organisations to make a cash donation online, or by sending a cheque to the Foundation’s office.

The Foundation is also calling for companies to come forward to pledge teams of staff who might be able to lend their DIY skills to renovate particular properties.

Rob Greenland, co-director of Social Business Brokers, said:

“At the moment, 15,000 homes stand empty in Leeds – with over 5,000 being empty for over six months – whilst 27,000 people remain on housing waiting lists.

“This is an issue that everyone can play a part in helping to resolve.  There are already lots of people doing great work on empty homes in Leeds and the Foundation’s pledge fund is a brilliant initiative that’s going to be crucial in making our city-wide campaign a real success.”

Greenhouse Beeston
Switching off for Earth Hour – The Greenhouse

The Leeds ‘Call to Action’ event takes place at the Greenhouse,  Beeston, on 16th May. It is designed to bring together representatives from the private, public and voluntary sectors.

Set to unite the city, the event will provide people with the opportunity to come up with new and innovative ideas to tackle Leeds growing empty homes problem.

A special guest of the ‘call to action’ event will be Channel 4 TV’s George Clarke, star of Restoration Man and The Great British Property Scandal who will be bringing his enthusiasm, support and rallying cry of action.

George will have an active role in the day and it is hoped that the event will be filmed as part of the campaign’s ongoing efforts to tackle the nation’s empty homes problem.

Other speakers at the call to action event will include senior representatives from Leeds City Council, local housing and regeneration organisations together with charities, private home-owners and property development companies.

More information on the Leeds Empties blog.