Housing Associations and Social Enterprise

I’ve just come across this Inside Housing article which highlights a number of housing associations actively involved in social enterprise, including Staffordshire-based Aspire’s PM Training and Indigo Training Solutions.

I’m also aware of others, for example having worked alongside Sarah at iSE to help Midland Heart set up the Frost and Snow cupcake bakery (very tasty cakes!).

It also links with the recent ResPublica ‘thinkpiece‘ arguing that housing associations should have more active involvement in their local communities.

For me, it’s a sign that awareness of social enterprise is growing and increasingly crossing boundaries, and making new connections. Am I being too optimistic?

  1. Alun Severn Reply

    Possibly, Simon. On the other hand one might argue that many HAs have long had an interest in social enterprise. I first became aware of HAs exploring social enterprise as part of the package of measures under Housing plus in the late-1990s — these were measures which broadly speaking sought to build not just homes but communities.

    Some similar attempts were made when HAs became involved in various area-based regeneration programmes.

    But to my mind what distinguished these early forays into social enterprise and employment creation was the fact that HAs were interested because generally speaking they could attract additional resources by doing these things. Interest tended to evaporate when the resources dried up or moved elsewhere.

    I don’t think that this means that HAs’ interest is entirely restricted to whether their being able to lever in funds. The interest now does seem more determined — more seems to be happening as a result. But it does seem to be happening amongst those HAs that still see themselves as part of a broad social enterprise movement, committed to social enterprise because they see themselves as social enterprises too. Certainly not all HAs do.

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