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NIFHA | News | Conference marks 40 years of…

Conference marks 40 years of housing success by Helm

Published on: 15 December, 2015

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The social housing sector in Northern Ireland has transformed housing provision in towns, cities and rural areas across the region since it was first established – that was the message as management and staff from Helm Housing Association along with social housing colleagues and DSD officials at Helm Housing’s stakeholder conference.

The conference, which took place at Queen’s University’s Management School, also recognised the organisation’s fortieth anniversary and its work across the sector.  It was first set-up as Belfast Improved Housing, and rebranded as Helm Housing in 2009.

Helm Housing, which manages over 5,000 properties, was first established in 1975 and concentrated exclusively on renovating existing properties. Growing from 307 tenancies in 1979, the association now provides accommodation for over 15,000 people across Northern Ireland.  Helm also engages in innovative partnership delivery with over twenty specialist care providers including Belfast Health & Social Care Trust, De Paul Ireland, Simon Community, Salvation Army and Praxis.

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The conference heard from a number of speakers including CEO Michael McDonnell and Bernie Rooney, DSD Director of Housing and NIFHA’s Chief Executive Cameron Watt.

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Speaking during the event, Chair of Helm Housing Liz Cuddy said: “Helm Housing Association’s forty years in operation is testament to team members past and present and the innovation and commitment to building quality homes in the social housing sector in Northern Ireland. Emerging at a time when housing provision was in almost permanent crisis, the organisation has grown to become one of the region’s leading housing providers. Housing Associations transformed housing provision in towns, cities and rural areas when they first emerged and are ready for the future challenges which face the sector.

“Through partnership Helm’s work today includes some of the most forward thinking of the sector. Our dementia friendly scheme at Hemsworth Court has won local and national recognition. Ensuring we have effective funding can sustain this innovation and allow us to meet the future challenges of housing provision. That means an increased focus on partnership, support care provision and a drive to build communities rather than just homes.”

Last year Helm Housing built 133 homes and created 14 apprenticeships with suppliers including H&J Martin and Fusion Heating and continues to develop social housing across Northern Ireland.

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