The new Social Investment Team, headed up by Karen Hayward, will coordinate projects that provide added value to Leeds Fed’s neighbourhoods. This could include anything from helping people into employment and training or to develop their own businesses to providing support to get online.
It has combined a number of existing teams into one, including Community Development, Customer Involvement, Customer Research, Neighbourhood Planning and Community Spaces.
The move follows the launch of a new corporate plan with the vision of ‘Building Futures Together’ and a new set of goals which set out a desire to increase Leeds Fed’s work in improving lives and communities.
Leeds Fed is investing £2m in this social investment work over the next five years, including £300,000 in 2013/14.
Karen said: “Leeds Fed has carried out this work throughout its history, going beyond providing homes to really make a difference to people’s lives and neighbourhoods.
“Now we want to continue that good work and have significantly increased investment in the areas our tenants have told us are most important.”
To inform this work, Leeds Fed carried out an ambitious customer research project called Inspire last year, conducting face-to-face interviews with more than 1,000 of its tenants.
The aim was to find out about tenants’ lives, what challenges they are facing, what support they would like to see in place to help them achieve their goals and what improvements they would like in their neighbourhoods so that Leeds Fed can invest in the areas that will have the biggest impact.
Now the Social Investment Team is in place and is looking to get projects off the ground in three key areas: helping people gain skills and employment, support around welfare reforms and other economic challenges and improvements to neighbourhoods.
Project ideas are being developed and a programme of work will be finalised in the coming months.
Karen said: “Inspire has been invaluable in helping us make sure we are directing our resources to where they are needed most. Now we have our team in place we are ready to go out and make things happen.
“We are building on Leeds Fed’s successes in providing training and apprenticeships, opportunities for young people, digital inclusion and much more over the past couple of years and going much further to help people achieve their goals in life and build thriving, sustainable communities.”
Leeds Fed already has a number of successful schemes in place. From April 2012 to March this year 95 people took part in Leeds Fed’s GOALS personal development programme, of which 15 have gone on to gain employment, four have been supported to set up their own business and four people have enrolled in further skills training.
During that time Leeds Fed also provided free English language classes to 49 people, helped fund three media apprenticeships and media training for 15 young people and engaged 100 people in its Passion 4 Fashion financial inclusion project.