GetWise – providing housing and creating jobs

Andy with Jonathan Chapman at GetWise

Local Labour Cllr Gail McDade introduced me to the team at GetWise yesterday at Grosvenor House. They are a local social enterprise in Corby that Gail has been supporting because of the great work they are doing to help people with housing and employment. They convert houses into what are known as HMOs – houses of multiple occupancy. This is providing safe, clean and affordable housing for local people. They have helped many people who previously didn’t have a home, such as the ‘sofa surfers’ who are living on a friends sofa because they can’t get a place of their own. Get Wise also recently provided housing for most of the rough sleepers in Corby. The main way they are making housing available is by working with private landlords to fund the investment needed to improve the housing and, by making better use of the space, make them into HMOs. This helps the landlord, the tenants and the local authority because it increases both the quality and availability of rented accommodation.

GetWise also help tenants in other ways, particularly people who need help to get their lives back on track. This includes helping with managing finances and personal budgeting, getting registered for services such as health and dental services, and help finding work. They provide basic skills training, trade based training, apprenticeships, volunteering opportunities and employment for some tenants. I met with a tenant who is now employed by Get Wise and whose life has been transformed.

GetWise have a range of initiatives, including a lettings service and a maintenance service. They also have ambitions to help older people access better housing and care, by converting their own homes – which may have too large and unsuitable – into HMOs. The property rental can then fund the older person to move into more suitable accommodation with access to care and support. This model could provide sustainable funding and the attraction for many people is that they can keep hold of their family home as an asset. The government are currently looking at the future funding of social care, and particularly at a time when costs are rising and our population is ageing, new ideas are needed. I wish Get Wise all success with their work in Corby and East Northamptonshire and their aim to expand across the country, and I look forward to keeping in touch with the team and helping them when I can.

To find out more visit their website at http://www.getwisegroup.co.uk and follow them on twitter at @LiveWiseHousing

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