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Home | News | Winchester City Council makes successful grant bids thanks to Wayfarer Partnership

Winchester City Council has been part of the Wayfarer partnership for five years and in that time its involvement has led directly to the authority securing £8.5 million in funding that has so far helped to support the development of more than 150 new homes.

Fully aware that Winchester is an expensive city to live in, the authority understands that housing affordability is an issue that needs addressing – especially for young people and families. It also has a particular focus on developing attractive, suitable homes for older people – with an overall ambition to build 1,000 new homes.

Securing Homes England funding has been a particularly important part of this drive, with £6 million of the funding Winchester has been awarded through the Wayfarer Partnership coming from this source.

Working as a member of the Wayfarer Partnership, Winchester City Council is able to access critical strategic advice and practical guidance that helps it to optimise the – consequently successful – bids it makes for grant funding.

Andrew Palmer, Head of New Homes Delivery at Winchester City Council, explains the vital role that being part of the Wayfarer Partnership has played in the authority being able to access funding for its ambitious affordable homes development plans:

“Being part of the Wayfarer Partnership allows us to bid for grant funding at the best rates per property and access vital information on different Homes England initiatives. Wayfarer knows how to position bids for grants so that they have the best possible chances of securing funding. Without Wayfarer’s help I cannot imagine how the Council would be able to bid effectively for Homes England grant funding.”

One example of where this funding has been directly responsible for allowing the authority to develop new affordable homes is at The Valley, where it has recently completed 77 new homes, a mixture of flats, houses and one bungalow – offered both for affordable / social rents and on a shared ownership basis.

The development has been designed to be low carbon and is as energy efficient as possible, with high levels of insulation and solar panels on all blocks, and electric vehicle charging points throughout the site.

Looking to the future, Winchester City Council has just started on site at Winnall Flats, with completion planned for 2023. This new development will be accredited to the PassivHaus low energy building standard and will provide a total of 73 new flats in two blocks and three new houses. Once again, Winchester City Council has been able to secure Homes England funding with the help of the Wayfarer Partnership.



Home | News | Local Chichester councillor celebrates new affordable homes for older adults

Chichester Greyfriars Housing Association (CGHA) has completed eight new one-bedroom homes at Royal Close Chichester, an affordable housing scheme for older adults.

On Wednesday 20 October, David Parfitt, Chair of CGHA visited the scheme to celebrate the homes being completed. He said:

“I am delighted with the quality and design of these eight new homes. Many of the HAPPI (Housing for an Ageing Population) principles have been adopted particularly around the space and flexibility of the new homes but also the outdoor space with new plants, trees and a water feature, with seating provided so that all tenants will be able to enjoy it.”

Located close to the centre of Chichester, the homes benefit from great transport links and access to nearby shops and facilities. They bring new neighbours to the Close, where there are 71 existing homes.

Residents have played a key part in the development of the new homes too, for example sharing their views on landscaping which have been incorporated into the build. The homes have already been fully let and the new residents have benefitted by moving from their current home to a new one ensuring that they maintain their independence and quality of life.

Janet Cunningham moved into one of the new flats and said: I moved into my new home in July. I am absolutely delighted with it and hope it will be my “forever home”. It’s well designed with a wonderful modern kitchen and bathroom and excellent space standards. I really couldn’t be happier.

The flats also boast green elements, making them more sustainable and better for the environment. This includes solar panels and enhanced energy efficiency. Steve Taylor, Head of Land and Planning at Abri, the lead member of Wayfarer said:

“The efficiency of these new homes will help customers save money on their heating and bills. Additionally, the green features will encourage residents to learn more about how we can all protect our planet while, most importantly, future-proofing the properties for years to come.”

CGHA has been providing affordable housing for people aged 60 and over in Chichester for more than 50 years, developing homes specifically for those with a local connection.

This Royal Close development was funded with a Homes England grant and funding from Chichester District Council. Alan Sutton, Cabinet Member for Housing, Communications, Licensing and Events at the Council had this to say:

“We were delighted to be able to support this scheme for older people with a grant last year, and it’s really positive news to see that the flats are finished and ready to be called home. Affordable housing makes a huge difference to people’s lives and enables people to stay within their local communities, close to family, friends and local facilities.

“As part of our council’s Housing Strategy we are committed to supporting the development of 1,000 affordable homes for local people by 2025 and it’s great to see a small, local housing association working to meet the needs of the local community.”

CGHA is a member of the housing consortium Wayfarer, and as a member benefits from access to funding programmes to provide homes for the City’s community.

To find out more visit

Home | News | Fareham residents benefit from new affordable housing development

Rose Court, a new affordable housing development of 18 one and two-bedroom high-quality affordable flats has been built by Wayfarer member, Fareham Borough Council (FBC).

The Mayor of Fareham, Councillor Pamela Bryant, opened the development on Wednesday 21 July. To celebrate the completion of the new homes, several other councillors were present including Executive Member for Housing, Councillor Fred Birkett.

“There is a growing need for affordable housing in Fareham, so we are thrilled that this new development is now complete and more residents from our housing register can now move in. We were keen to work with Solent-based companies to develop this brownfield site which had remained unused for many years. Everyone involved in this project has worked hard to ensure that it was completed as quickly as possible, despite incredibly challenging circumstances. I’m looking forward to seeing the development filled with new residents very shortly.”

The homes were built by locally-based building company, FE Chase and Sons. A small organisation, they were selected as part of Fareham Borough Council’s support of small and medium sized enterprises. This is a priority Wayfarer shares.

The new homes are for social rent and repurpose a site that has been empty for several years following demolition. Abri’s Executive Director of Development and Strategic Asset Management, Stephen Lodge, said:

“As lead partner of Wayfarer, it’s fantastic to see the delivery of affordable homes that directly meet local housing needs. Fareham Borough Council’s Rose Court development supported a small and medium sized enterprise which is a priority for Wayfarer. The regeneration of this site goes towards delivering housing for those who need it most.”

Rose Court was delivered with thanks to a successful grant bid to Homes England for more than £1.2m.

To find out more visit Fareham Borough Council’s website.

Home | News | Wayfarer: Unlocking funding

Collaboration is often the key to success. Whether it’s by combining resources or sharing expertise, a partnership approach is what we do as Wayfarer. We’re a consortium of like-minded organisations all about meeting local housing needs across southern England.

With 17 members, ranging from small specialist register providers to large local authorities, Wayfarer exists to connect organisations with the grant funding they need to help solve the housing crisis. This is the foundation that we exist on: the connecting link between those with ambitions to build more affordable homes and the expertise and financial support needed to do just that.

Led by Abri, we’re supporting our members to secure Homes England funding to deliver a diversity of different housing options for communities in the region.

Achieving more, together

Wayfarer has been operating since 2003. Why? Because the housing crisis isn’t a new thing, and we’ve always been driven by an ambition to provide lots of new affordable and specialist homes. But we’ve also always known that while what we do is important and helps to tackle that crisis, supporting others to do the same is essential.

So we help our members to apply for grant funding, providing a dedicated team of people who are on hand to help our members provide affordable homes in their area with the support of Homes England. Our members vary in size and housing type, but each one provides homes that are developed in direct response to what their communities need.

Keeping the momentum going

As Wayfarer we’ve already unlocked grants in excess of £320m and attracted funding for 12,430 affordable homes. At the same time we’ve maximised our combined skills and expertise to deliver more for communities across southern England.

But we’re not complacent, and we remain focussed on continuing to tackle the housing crisis to ensure as many people as possible have a safe, warm home. We’ve been successful securing significant Homes England grant funding in the past and are looking forward to working with Homes England to secure funding for our future pipeline schemes in the new AHP 2021-2026 programme.

We’ve just welcomed two new members and are always on the lookout for organisations who share our goals. As we make our way towards a post-pandemic world, the impacts of Covid-19 will continue to show themselves. The need for high-quality, accessible and sustainable homes is at its greatest and we’ll be here, with our members, to deliver that.

Home | News | Specialist housing providers join Wayfarer partnership

Wayfarer, a housing consortium led by Abri, has welcomed two new members to become a 17-strong partnership for its 2021-2026 programme.

Bournemouth YMCA and Taunton Heritage Trust have become the latest partners of Wayfarer, alongside existing members including registered providers and local authorities. Both new members provide specialist housing to their local communities.

On joining Wayfarer, Kathie Pearce, Head of Housing and Support at Bournemouth YMCA, said:

“We have 114 units of supported housing and ambitious plans for growth. Small providers play a unique and vital role in the areas they work in, to help tackle the UK housing crisis. 

“Joining Wayfarer gives us the opportunity to tap into the expertise, knowledge and experience of others, and the ability to bid for Homes England grant funding; things we would not be able to do on our own. We are delighted to be part of Wayfarer.”

In 2020/21 Wayfarer members completed 451 new affordable homes as part of Homes England programmes. In the next financial year they are set to complete around 850 new homes, including homes for rent and home ownership as well as specialist housing such as the Next Steps Accommodation programme and Move On Fund.

Karen White, Chief Officer of Taunton Heritage Trust, said:

“Joining the consortium is enabling our almshouse charity to benefit more local people in need of accommodation. Our charity has provided almshouses since the early 1600s and we are delighted to have the opportunity to add a further 12 units to our existing stock of 66 self-contained flats.

“The Trust last increased its estate back in the 1980s and this is an ambitious project for us. We consider ourselves fortunate to have joined Wayfarer and benefit from their experience to help deliver this exciting project.”

Wayfarer, managed by Abri, offers essential support to smaller registered housing providers, enabling them to provide new affordable homes in communities across southern England. With an ethos of better homes, better value, better communities, better lives, they support members to work with Homes England to secure funding and collaboratively increase affordable housing.

Natasha Wilson, Head of Wayfarer, said:

“We are pleased to welcome two new members to Wayfarer for Homes England’s new funding programme. We look forward to working with them to support their ambitions to deliver new affordable homes.”

Home | News | The south of England benefits from more than 600 new homes

As the financial year draws to a close Wayfarer celebrates another successful year of partnership working and we are delighted to be lead partner of this consortium. Since April 2019 the consortium have completed 616 new homes, with 895 forecast to be completed before the end of March 2020.

Seventeen partners, including Abri (formerly Radian Group), have benefited from more than £11m investment from Homes England. This investment has had a number of positive benefits, both for the delivery of homes and for the communities Wayfarer serve.

Abri’s Natasha Wilson, Head of Wayfarer, said:

“Successful partnership working is key to our success as a housing provider in the south of England. We work together with support services, local authorities and housing developers to deliver homes that are high-quality, affordable and accessible.

“The 2019/20 financial year has been a great success for Wayfarer, strengthened by essential investment from Homes England. We now look ahead to the next year, and the ways in which we will continue to deliver on our strategic objectives.”

Funding from Homes England has also enabled the consortium to deliver affordable homes in areas of depravation and need; this has included the completion of 37 homes to combat homelessness by Society of St James & Two Saints & 35 Shared Ownership properties for older adults by Platinum Skies Living; and the start of works on 77 new homes by Winchester City Council.

“The delivery of affordable homes remains an important priority for us, so we are pleased to support the Wayfarer Consortium by providing this financial investment which has resulted in much-needed new, affordable homes for local people.” – Lisa Clayton, Senior Housing Delivery Manager at Homes England.

Home | News | Wayfarer: a year in review

It’s almost the end of the 2019/20 financial year and we’ve had a fantastic 10 months. Since 1 April 2019, the Wayfarer partnership has seen 616 new homes completed, with a total of 895 expected to complete before the 31 March 2020.

Our consortium of 17 partners has benefited from £11,527,856 of grant funding from Homes England since the beginning of the financial year. As a result of this funding:

Stephen Lodge, Executive Director of Development and Strategic Asset Management at Abri commented:

“The successful collaboration of Wayfarer members not only means we are consistently delivering high quality affordable homes as well as opportunities for home ownership, we’re also able to improve and enhance the communities we work in. ForAbri, as Lead Partner of Wayfarer, this is so important. Homes are nothing without strong and sustainable communities and it’s fantastic to see that this belief is shared with the 17 other partners involved. I’m looking forward to seeing what the consortium will achieve in the future.”


A model that works

Wayfarer allows each member to retain its individual identity, concentrating on their own area of expertise while working together to deliver affordable homes to those in housing need. This means members can draw on, and maximise each other’s skills, expertise and resources to improve the delivery of new affordable homes.

Our successful collaboration sees partnerships form between public and private funders, developers, land owners and other bodies. In addition, significant Homes England grant funding now and in the past, enables the group to deliver high quality, affordable and sustainable homes across the south.

Since our formation in 2003, the group has attracted funding for over 11,687 affordable homes with grants in excess of £311 million. We’ve had a brilliant year to date, and plan to build on this success going forward.

We’ve also seen the launch of our new website which you can find here.


Delivering benefits to communities

These projects will not only see the provision of much needed affordable housing, they’re also delivering significant benefits to communities.

Fareham Borough Council’s 18 home development of properties for social rent benefited from nearly £1.3m of grant funding from Homes England. The council’s tender approach for the appointment of contractors is open and encouraging to local SME’s. As such, FE Building & Sons, a Fareham based company, were appointed and began construction in August 2019.

This is a fantastic result for the community who are not only receiving much needed social homes – the first new homes to be built in Fareham for over two years but are also seeing investment in the local economy as well.

Abri recently announced the acquisition of a 0.9 hectare site in Downhouse Road, Catherington. This site will see 29, affordable and shared ownership semi-detached and terraced houses built, as well as an open play area for families. The Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) says villages in England are facing a hidden crisis, with the lack of affordable homes having a devastating impact on the social fabric of rural life.

Developments such as those at Downhouse Road are responding to this need with the development ensuring housing is accessible to local people, particularly the younger generations and those on lower incomes.

Home | News | Raven Housing Trust – Pathway to Employment Project

Raven Housing Trust – Pathway to Employment Project

A young east Surrey woman who has overcome a range of barriers to find a full time job and permanent home has praised the innovative project which helped her.

Roisin Monahan (19), joined the East Surrey Pathway to Employment project, a partnership scheme run by Raven Housing Trust, based in Redhill, last August.

This programme of support assists unemployed people living in unsecured or temporary housing, such as a hostel, to find a job and operates across East Surrey, Epsom and Ewell and Crawley.

It provides intensive, targeted services to people with significant difficulties or issues move closer to the job market or into work.

“I came to the project with very low motivation and self-esteem and suffered from acute anxiety which controlled my everyday life,” said Roisin, who was living at the East Surrey YMCA. The hostel referred her to the scheme to help her overcome her anxiety and find a job.

Since being on the Pathway to Employment project, Roisin has received personal support and guidance from her advisor to help her decide on a career.

She enrolled on a Level 2 course in counselling at East Surrey College because she wanted to help others who felt as she did and could see this as a potential career choice.

The pathway project lent Roisin a laptop so that she could complete the course and paid her travel expenses. She also attended a jobs fair at Gatwick, speaking to lots of employers, and received help from her advisor to update her CV.

“The Pathway to Employment project also held a confidence workshop which made me feel better and more motivated to get into work.

“I successfully applied for an apprenticeship in service delivery and started this month – I feel positive about my future and am very grateful to Raven’s project as it really helped me and is continuing to provide me with support and counselling,” commented Rosie, who is now living in a YMCA move-on house with a two-year assured short hold tenancy.

Julie Jacobs-Obodai, Employability & Skills Manager at Raven Housing Trust, which manages over 7,000 homes in Surrey and Sussex and runs a range of community investment initiatives, said: “It has been great to see the steps that Roisin has made and we are looking forward to seeing her progress even further. She is another real success story for the Pathway to Employment project.”

East Surrey Pathway to Employment is a partnership funded by the European Social Fund and the National Lottery, through the Big Lottery Fund. Amongst its range of services it also provides online support and training, assistance with childcare, advice on financial management, physical well-being courses, access to job clubs and in-work support.

Roisin Monahan in the Raven HA offices.


Roisin Monahan with support worker Nicole Tootill.


Home | News | Abri is Celebrating five years of the Round About Café

Mansbridge’s local, not-for-profit café – The Round About Café – has celebrated its 5th birthday.

The café, which is supported by Abri, celebrated five years of serving locally sourced food and drink at affordable prices and initiatives aimed at giving something back to the community; volunteer opportunities, training, education and job support, health and wellbeing activities and projects to reduce social isolation, anti-social behaviour and fly tipping and littering.

The celebrations saw a huge turnout – volunteers, customers, staff, Abri’s CEO Gary Orr and Ralph Facey, Executive Director – Operations – to share stories, cut cake and give thanks to the volunteers and staff who make the café possible.

Ralph Facey, Executive Director – Operations said: “When we had an empty unit in Mansbridge we were faced with a head-scratching moment. Do we convert the space into an apartment? Maybe rent it to a local business? Or see if we can give something back to the community instead…how about a café?

“Unemployment levels in the area were high and community spirit was low following the closure of the Ford Factory. But local support for a social space was clear from the start.”

“A dedicated steering group of local residents and Abri staff worked to develop the project – they decided the décor, menu and the name. Abri’s Technical Services team gave their expertise, advice and two apprentices to complete the refurbishment; and a local resident even put pen to paper and designed the iconic teacup logo for us.”

Since opening, the café has:

The Café also provides free wi-fi, free access to laptops and printing, and support from staff to get online, set-up emails and search for jobs. The Café’s supporters also work to tackle wider issues such as social isolation by setting up initiatives such as the Gardening Club, the Heritage Lottery funded TRANSITion Project, Parental support courses and ‘One for the Pot’, which invites customers buying a drink to purchase an extra one for someone else, when they need it.

Gary Orr, Abri’s CEO, said: “Mansbridge is where it all began for our organisation. We point back to the history, success and vibrancy of this community. You can still see traces of that throughout our organisation in terms of our commitment to housing people but also supporting communities and helping them to thrive.”

“It is an absolute honour and a privilege to come down here and hear your stories. This clearly is the heart of the community – bacon sandwiches often are at the heart of the community!”

Read our Five Year Review to discover how this little community cafe has grown into a bustling hub of activity, working to benefit our customers and the wider community here.

Published 1 November 2018