Moving On to bigger things - homelessness charity looks to the future thanks to grant

Social Investment Business

Moving On work with young people aged 16–25 across County Durham who are homeless or affected by homelessness.  Whether they face relationship breakdown, financial difficulties or are fleeing domestic abuse, Moving On support young people to find accommodation, manage money and provide support to help them sustain their tenancy and live independent lives.   

In 2015 Moving On opened a social lettings agency.  They lease good quality properties from private landlords and let them to young people, as well as providing tenancy training and other housing-related support. Last year they worked with over 300 young people providing advice and guidance to 227 and placing 46 into long-term accommodation.

Moving On applied to Big Potential for help to work out the best way to develop its social letting activity. They specifically wanted to investigate how to develop their business model, structure their organisation and what funding they might need to grow.

Working with approved Big Potential Provider, Numbers for Good, and a Breakthrough grant of £23,400, they got to work. Numbers for Good conducted a detailed review of the housing and homelessness landscape in County Durham and built a financial model for Moving On that incorporates a wide range of scenarios and factors that may affect them in the future. This led them to make recommendations for a business model for their lettings agency and an analysis of how relevant social investment would be for them.

In the words of Sue Ryland, Project Manager, “Big Potential funding allowed Moving On to carry out an interesting piece of work with Numbers for Good, analysing our organisation and the financial viability of purchasing properties using social investment versus the current leasing model”.

For Moving On, this was new and unlike anything undertaken in the past.  Traditionally small voluntary organisations like Moving On provide services commissioned by the local authority, that have been tendered for and which are time limited, or services which are funded through Trust Funds. 

Sue adds, “The new social lettings agency is a commercial project and any surplus will enable us to continue to provide good quality housing and support services.  Highlighting and strengthening elements of the organisation such as governance, financial management and leadership will make Moving On attractive to social investors.   Whilst the current leasing model has proved to be successful, and we continue to grow slowly but steadily in the current financial climate, it is our ambition - when the time is right - to create an asset base, providing a solid foundation for the organisation”.

After working with Numbers for Good Moving On made improvements across their entire organisation. According to Sue, “Through working with Numbers for Good we improved and increased our awareness of management and leadership within the organisation, both operationally and via the board. This will help us provide a better service to our young people.  We also have a better understanding of how we must refine and develop our social lettings business”.

After working with Numbers for Good, Moving On decided that social investment was not actually right for them at that point. They are looking to pursue investment in the near future but will continue to develop their social lettings business first to increase the chance of an attractive and secure investment offer.

Moving On will continue working to develop their Social Lettings agency and help more young people across County Durham. Thanks to Big Potential, and Numbers for Good, they are recruiting new board members and a consultant is helping them improve their financial management and develop their finance trainee. They expect to continue to grow and hope to replace statutory funding by 2017.

Moving On are hoping to apply again during 2016 to Big Potential for the next stage of grant funding to continue the work they began in 2015 with Numbers for Good