October/November/December 2020

Stockport Homes score twice

Winners of both the Community and Social Responsibility category plus Business of the Year (over 10 employees), Stockport Homes Group are very much the embodiment of a modern socially conscious organisation. Formed in 2005, and led by Chief Executive Helen McHale, the organisation has grown at an incredible rate and now has over 600 employees. GM Business Connect caught up with Helen to find out more…

Firstly, congratulations on winning not one but two awards. How has this news been received by your colleagues?
“At Stockport Homes Group, celebrating success is part of our culture. Naturally our colleagues are delighted to be recognised in these awards which reflect both our social conscience and the commerciality that is essential in maintaining and developing the vital core services that bring it to life. Of course, our true success is in the outcomes we achieve for our customers and the communities we serve.”

Can you briefly tell us how Stockport Homes Group grew into the organisation it is today?
“Our evolution is based on ensuring we can continue to deliver and develop new services to meet customer need in a world of reducing public resources. In 2016 we established a Group structure to make savings and generate new funding and income for reinvestment back to our core business. We rebranded as Stockport Homes Group which is now made up of four companies.

“Firstly, Stockport Homes manages council housing, the homelessness service, and a range of other neighbourhood and support services on behalf of Stockport Council. Next we have Viaduct Partnerships whose role is to build new homes for affordable rent, shared ownership and outright sale with Stockport Council. Three Sixty is our third company, delivering large scale capital works at competitive rates. This will evolve to engage in commercial building projects in the future. The fourth business is Foundations Stockport, our community benefit society, working to alleviate poverty and provide positive opportunities.”

Stockport Homes Chief Executive Helen McHale

One of your awards was for the Community and Social Responsibility category. Can you tell us what you are doing as an organisation to achieve success in this role?
“Community and Social Responsibility is intrinsic to achieving our ‘One team, transforming lives’ mission which goes above and beyond traditional housing and offers many more community and support services. We tackle wider social, economic and environmental challenges; enhancing the sustainability of our communities; providing opportunities for customers and staff to reach their full potential, and for partners to deliver more by working together.”

Can you describe your working relationship with Stockport Council?
“Stockport Homes is an Arms Length Management Organisation to Stockport Council. Our relationship with the Council is governed by a long-term Management Agreement and we work together strategically on a range of shared objectives. Through the development of the Group structure, Stockport Homes has explored new opportunities, innovating in order to support the Council in the achievement of its objectives and the ever changing economic and political environment in which it operates. SHG and the Council work constructively together for the benefit of Stockport and its residents. Viaduct Housing Partnership is an excellent example of how we are successfully working together to achieve a common goal, in this case increasing the availability of quality, affordable housing.”

Has the current pandemic had an impact upon your organisation?
“We’re proud to have continually delivered excellent frontline services during the pandemic, whilst prioritising the safety of our customers and staff. As well as essential services, we have worked hard to provide additional support including employment support for local residents and customers facing financial struggles. We’ve actioned wellbeing calls to our Carecall customers, customers over 70 and more vulnerable customers, and supported the community with the distribution of food parcels. We’ve also supplied access to affordable food through ‘Your Local Pantry’, our volunteer-led community initiative to reduce food poverty and food waste. Another area of particular concern during the pandemic is domestic abuse – we have made contact and offer support with victims and survivors.”

What are your plans for future growth for the Group?
“We have widened the scope of our activities by developing new social housing and we will own 1,000 homes in our own right by 2021, as well as managing approximately 11,500 on the Council’s behalf. We are also exploring business opportunities in parallel markets, such as developing for sale and selling repairs, maintenance and facilities’ management services locally and in neighbouring boroughs. We want to do more to support the most vulnerable in society; those looking for work, leaving prison, with mental health and addiction challenges for example. Our strategy will continue to evolve in line with customer needs and our desire to always exceed expectation. We will continue to drive this through our entrepreneurial, but values led, approach; building productive and efficient partnerships; maximising on external funding opportunities; and engaging and motivating our employees to be the best they can be.”

Find out more about the work Stockport Homes does for the local community: www.stockporthomes.org