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Empty Homes Week: LandAid secures new donations to transform derelict buildings

Sally Robinson | 30.11.16

UK property companies Palmer Capital and Shaftesbury have each donated £30,000 to LandAid, the property industry charity, to sponsor the transformation of derelict properties in Leeds and Newcastle into homes for young people facing homelessness.

The news coincides with the start of ‘Empty Homes Week’ – a national campaign which aims to encourage the creative use of empty homes to meet housing need.

The funding is the direct result of LandAid’s ‘Sponsor a Home’ initiative launched three months ago in response to the shocking number of homes sitting empty across the UK. Research by the Empty Homes Charity, released on Monday, has found that four in five (83%) British adults believe the Government should place a higher priority on tackling empty homes.

With millions of families on the waiting list for council housing and levels of homelessness soaring, the industry’s support comes at a time of critical need.

Shaftesbury’s contribution, raised through staff fundraising efforts, will be used to convert derelict flats above a row of shops in North Shields into three new studio flats. The project, run by YMCA North Tyneside, will provide a stable environment for three young people who might otherwise be forced to live in poor quality B&Bs and private rented bedsits.

In Leeds, Palmer Capital’s donation will enable award-winning charity Canopy Housing to renovate a derelict 2-bed terraced home and provide construction training for future tenants.

This Empty Homes Week, LandAid is calling on more property companies to join its campaign and help address the wasted resource of empty homes. Those interested in finding out more should email leah.desilva@landaid.org.

Alex Price, Chief Executive of Palmer Capital, said: “We have been a firm supporter of LandAid for many years and are delighted to have hit our fundraising target of £30,000. It has certainly been an active year, which has seen our prop co’s and us partaking in a range of fundraising activities from table tennis to poker tournaments. We couldn’t be more pleased with the outcome, which will have a significant impact on the lives of young people at risk of homelessness in Leeds.”

Brian Bickell, Chief Executive of Shaftesbury, said: “We at Shaftesbury support LandAid’s ten year campaign to tackle one of the most important social issues of our time – youth homelessness.  Our fundraising this year has included participating in the TowerAthlon, a Shaftesbury Bake-Off, and a crazy golf night for over 150 players. We are proud to have raised £30,000 for the conversion of two empty flats in North Shields into three new studio flats, providing homes and the prospect of a better future for vulnerable young people.” 

Dean Titterton, Chief Executive of YMCA North Tyneside, said: "You cannot underestimate the return on investment from accommodating a vulnerable young person in a safe and welcoming environment. Combined with the sort of care and support YMCA are renowned for, our young people are able to gain the traction they need to become employed and achieve their other ambitions. We can't thank Shaftesbury and LandAid enough for their support in helping YMCA to transform the lives of young people in North Tyneside."

Paul Morrish, Chief Executive of LandAid, said: “It is a scandal that so many young people are forced to face the danger and uncertainty of homelessness when 200,000 homes in England remain empty and unused. LandAid is proud to be working with Palmer Capital and Shaftesbury to turn vacant properties in Leeds and North Tyneside into safe accommodation for young people without a place to call home. But as we face the worst housing and homelessness crisis in a generation, we need more businesses in the property industry to step up and support our Sponsor a Home campaign. Youth homelessness is an avoidable and unnecessary tragedy. Together, we can end it for good.”