Gentoo becomes first social landlord to sign up to Board Charter for Community Investment

Dec 20, 2019

HACT is delighted to announce that Sunderland-based housing association, Gentoo Group, is the first social housing organisation to sign up to the Board Charter for Community Investment.

“We congratulate the Group Board of Gentoo in signing up to the Board Charter for Community Investment,” said Andrew van Doorn, Chief Executive of HACT. “As the first housing association in the UK to sign up to the Charter, they have demonstrated their commitment to community investment and highlighted their role as one of the leading anchor institutions in Sunderland.

“When the Centre for Excellence in Community Investment launched the Board Charter in September, we were inundated with interest from housing providers across the UK,” Andrew continued. “Many social housing organisations are already driving forward the community investment agenda and they recognise that there is now a significant opportunity for us to speak more collectively, effectively and publicly, formalising our long-term commitment and ensuring our social purpose is embedded across our businesses.”

Keith Loraine OBE, Chair of Gentoo Group, commented: “On behalf of the Gentoo Group Board, I’m delighted we have committed to the Board Charter for Community Investment. Investing in our local communities is fundamental to what Gentoo stands for and is right at the heart of our social purpose. I look forward to seeing the delivery of our community investment strategy in the coming months and years, enabling our tenants to flourish and supporting the ongoing transformation of the city of Sunderland.”

We are inviting all Boards to sign up to the Board Charter, which consists of nine pledges. These pledges demonstrate the commitment by each organisation not only to invest in their communities but to do so in a strategic and impactful way.

The Charter has been developed by the Centre for Excellence in Community Investment’s Influence Working Group, which consists of representatives from across the UK community investment sector.

“This is a vital time for social housing,” said Andrew van Doorn. “There is the possibility of a new regulatory landscape, with a stronger focus on our residents and the social value we create. How we invest in and work alongside our residents and communities to create places that thrive has never been more important. By adopting the Board Charter, we can drive forward an agenda together that recognises and develops the essential role social housing organisations play in their communities.”

Editor’s notes

Gentoo Group is a housing association based in Sunderland with a portfolio of 29,000 affordable rented homes. It was formed in 2001 following a large-scale voluntary stock transfer from Sunderland City Council. It generates around £5 million in social value for Sunderland every year. HACT launched the Centre for Excellence in Community Investment in September 2018.

The Board Charter was launched at the Housing Summit in September 2019 during a speech given by Andrew van Doorn at the conference.

The Board Charter consists of nine pledges to which social housing organisation Boards are required to commit:

The Communities Pledge:

  • Community investment is core to our role as a social housing organisation and central to our social purpose.
  • We commit to owning, investing in, and celebrating our community investment work and its impact.
  • We will work with the Centre for Excellence in Community Investment to help maximise and measure the impact of our work, as well as invest in the people who deliver it.

How we’re going to deliver it:

  • Our Community Investment Strategy will be underpinned by an action plan, and the appropriate resources, people and skills to deliver on our objectives.
  • We will ensure residents are at the heart of community investment, co-creating service design and involved in scrutiny and review.
  • We will be part of our communities, with Board members leaving the boardroom to see community investment delivery first-hand.

How we’ll demonstrate it:

  • We commit to a methodologically robust and rigorous measurement mechanism to evidence the impact of community investment activity.
  • We will publish key measures of success in our annual report to facilitate transparency and accountability.
  • We will be leaders and advocates for community investment, both in and outside of the housing sector.

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