The enterprise, initiated by the Duke of Westminster, is on a mission to improve outcomes for vulnerable children, young people and their families by simultaneously addressing three major foundational blocks that are essential to overcome disadvantage and build better outcomes in life:
- the provision of high-quality affordable and secure homes paired with support services tailored around individual needs and addressing:
- employment and routes into employment
- mental health and wellbeing.
The first refurbished homes and a dedicated community facility in Chester city centre has now been completed. With children, young people and their families in the process of moving in, individuals will have support available from Grosvenor’s dedicated family support professionals, whose role will be to enable people’s access to, and progress from, a range of outcome-driven support services procured by Grosvenor in partnership with a range of public, private and third sector organisations.
This first milestone, the result of a successful public/private partnership with Cheshire West and Cheshire Council, is the culmination of a three-year development programme during which Grosvenor underwent a comprehensive planning exercise, in-depth research, and consultation with leading experts in the field.
The ambition is to develop a self-sustaining, scalable model, founded on profit sufficiency – not profit maximisation. Grosvenor will judge its success and chart its growth based on the number of people and families for whom it helps achieve better outcomes. Subject to being able to demonstrate the success of this model in the early activities, Grosvenor plans to make significant investments over the next 10 years to provide more than 750 homes alongside tailored intervention support – focusing on Chester and the north-west of England, as well as central London.
The initiative is led by Grosvenor Hart Homes CEO Helen Keenan, who has significant public and private sector experience in service design and improvement for children and young people, economic development, and regeneration. Helping to steer Grosvenor’s Hart Homes development, a newly formed board chaired by former Grosvenor Executive Director Peter Vernon includes, among others, Dr Javed Khan OBE, former CEO of Barnardos; Terrie Alafat OBE, former CEO of the Chartered Institute of Housing; Julie Doyle the CEO of Longhurst Group; and impact investing expert Hayley Collen.
Commenting on the announcement, The Duke of Westminster said: “I am delighted to see Grosvenor create a new social enterprise and have high hopes that its innovative model will help to empower families and young people to better access life opportunities.
“We passionately believe that the provision of high-quality, safe, secure, and affordable homes must be paired with outcome-driven support services. Our unique model stresses the need to tailor and meticulously plan, prioritise, and co-ordinate services through a trusted and knowledgeable family support professional working alongside families to help them achieve their goals. Working in this relational way means we stand a much better chance of breaking the cycle of disadvantage and empowering children and young people to achieve their potential and thrive.
“I am also particularly pleased to launch this initiative in Chester, my hometown, where I hope that the innovative approaches we are developing and the partnership model we have created with public sector organisations can grow into effective solutions replicable elsewhere.”
Helen Keenan, Chief Executive, Grosvenor Hart Homes, added: “Many vulnerable children, young people, and their families are caught in a spiral of temporary and often unfit accommodation, facing what can be a maze of poorly coordinated support services.
“From a user perspective, support services can be difficult to understand and engage with, especially for those who are most vulnerable or for people with language barriers. From a provider’s perspective, too often we see ‘service inputs’ rather than ‘effective outcomes’ driving the system and a lack of capacity within statutory services means resources are swallowed up by the most urgent and extreme cases. The system is failing our most vulnerable people.
“Instead, our approach will look to establish, from the outset, a strong relationship between the people we are trying to help and a dedicated Grosvenor family support professional. Unlocking the complexities of statutory support services and integrating these with additional help we will provide directly, their role will be to address and coordinate individual needs simultaneously. By focusing on the key foundations of a safe and secure home people can settle into for the long term, mental health and wellbeing, and employment and routes into employment support, we believe we can empower people to overcome early life trauma and disadvantage and go on to thrive.
Grosvenor Hart Homes draws on the support, expertise, and financial strength of the wider Grosvenor organisation whilst creating a bespoke social enterprise model that prioritises community benefit but also delivers a self-sustaining level of commercial return sufficient to support a scalable, impact-focused operation.”
Cllr Louise Gittins, Leader of the Council, continued: “This is a wonderful initiative and will transform the lives of many people in Chester. It is a pioneering scheme and I wish all the families moving into their new homes over the next few weeks and months the very best. I am excited to see the plans for further investments over the next decade which will see more homes being delivered to the families that need them the most. It is amazing what can be achieved when we join together with a shared goal.
“I am very grateful to Grosvenor Hart Homes and The Duke of Westminster for his personal support and passion for his hometown. It is a very exciting time for Chester, and I look forward to seeing the impact this scheme has.”
Helen Keenan concluded: “We want to have a genuinely transformative impact on children and young people by integrating the most appropriate support services for them – ones that can help them thrive, alleviating the major social pressures and disadvantages we see within the communities we are part of and know best. It is a concept we hope can be replicated elsewhere so that those who need it most can get the help they need.”
Grosvenor Hart Homes complements the activities of the Westminster Foundation which represents the charitable activities of the Duke of Westminster and Grosvenor businesses and is focussed entirely on working collaboratively with organisations that inspire children and young people early in life with opportunities to thrive, build confidence and raise aspirations.
Grosvenor has a long history of social housing provision both in London and Chester. There are over 700 affordable homes in Mayfair and Belgravia, most of which were provided through the actions of previous generations of the Grosvenor family. This new initiative takes inspiration for its name from Hart Street in Mayfair where some of those social housing units continue to be based.