We wanted to end the year by sharing some of our personal highlights from 2022. During lockdown, SASC has doubled in size, from a small firm where everyone did a bit of everything, to a team structure focussed on specific areas of work that drive the business forward. The achievements of this year are due, in large part, to the hard work of these (now not so new) hires and the expansion and development of our internal skills and expertise.
So let’s hear from our team and their highlights so you can get a sense of all the work they do.
Mark Bickford, Chief Investment Officer
My 2022 highlight was being able to come to the office and see colleagues face to face again after such a long time.
Jorge Llorens, Investment Director
My best moment was the completion of our first project with the amazing organisation One Small Thing (OST).
Although it is extremely difficult (and probably also unfair!) to pick only one of the charities that we have worked with this year, I feel particularly proud and honoured that SASC has supported OST to provide supported accommodation to women involved with the criminal justice system. OST is pioneering in this area and working in collaboration with the Ministry of Justice, to introduce an alternative approach to the traditional prison system for women, which has many limitations and drawbacks.
OST places much more emphasis on helping heal trauma for these women, and on keeping their children close to them at this critical juncture in their lives. This compassionate but firm and disciplined approach helps reduce the negative impact on the whole family and also contributes to breaking the habitual cycle of reoffending.
Rebecca Grattage, Investment Manager (previously Portfolio Manager)
I would say my general highlight for 2022 has been our visits to see our borrowers.
I especially enjoyed a trip to Hull with my colleague Justyna back in May where we saw four charities over two days – both new and old. It was especially rewarding to see how far some of the organisations had developed since my last visit to Hull pre-pandemic in 2019. For example, when I last visited Giroscope I saw the site for their new build and the construction plans and layout. This year when I went back, I was able to go inside the recently completed new build homes and see what an amazing job the team has done! It’s really inspiring to see how the charities we work with continued to work throughout the challenging times of the pandemic and came out on the other side with some great achievements behind them.
Justyna Bailey, Portfolio Director
For me, the most striking moment was meeting Michael (not his real name) living at one of the properties we have helped a charity purchase in Dundee. Michael said “Thank you for saving my life. Without this place I wouldn’t be alive.” After 25 years on the streets he could show us his first own bed. We all gave him a hug.
Rahul Rattan, Portfolio Analyst
Reflecting on this year, it was really quite hard to pick a single best moment. I would say alongside the trips to meet borrower charities where we can meet and speak with borrowers and their beneficiaries in person, I enjoyed participating in a analysis project at start of the year which was then presented to an investor. This was my first taste of engaging in conversation with a potential investor, and it was a great learning opportunity.
The project looked at how our SASH fund has been deployed since it was launched. It was good to dive deep into the portfolio and visually illustrate how far it has come.
Other notable mentions include: our first company away day where we met as a team to reflect on and brainstorm around our processes, as well as welcoming our summer intern Ababacar as part of the 10,000 black interns programme, and of course completing on properties to provide critical supported accommodation to people who need it.
Hannah Davey, Portfolio Manager
I enjoy the fact that every day we provide the flexibility needed for our borrower charities to purchase the most suitable properties for their tenants. I feel privileged to see how the right housing creates lasting impact.
Bernice Affat, Chief Portfolio Management Officer
My highlight was realising that we have helped our borrowers buy twice the number of homes they did last year, doubling the rate of additional people that now have access to safe, high quality affordable homes that weren’t available to them last year – 174 houses to date this year, 273 bedrooms and we’re not at the end of the year yet.
After being put through a thorough due diligence process by the Scottish National Investment Bank over the Spring/Summer, I know I (and the whole team) was delighted to hear the news that that they had approved an investment into the SASH II fund.
And finally, seeing the Portfolio team grow in maturity and coming together to work cohesively as a unit, has been wonderful for me. To see them now, working as a team, not as individuals operating in parallel, the results are effective and super impressive. The team is greater than a sum of their parts, which may sound cliched but is true.
Stuart Sweeney, Fundraising Director (previously Investment Director)
My moment of the year was getting the chance in the summer to take on a new role and lead the vital fundraising agenda at SASC as we aim to raise assets under management and drive meaningful impact more widely. It’s not easy in fast, volatile markets but I’m enjoying building relationships with investors who have ESG at the heart of what they do. They love to hear about our inspiring borrower’s many of whom I know personally from my time in the investment team.
Adam Moy, General Counsel
Obviously, my highlight is the first closing of our second housing fund SASH II. I also enjoyed finalising some challenging legal negotiations on SASH deals.
Clodagh Warde, Chief Commercial Officer
As part of our away day, the team cooked over 100 meals for a local foodbank overseen by the charity Cook for Good. It was a great bonding experience – you really get to know people when you cook and eat together.
In my day-to-day work, my highlights have been meeting borrowers in Scotland and speaking at a key industry conference where I got the opportunity to explain how SASC can help address the Levelling Up Agenda.
Gilly Orr, Chief Operating Officer (previously Impact & External Affairs Director)
My highlight was the launch of the new Borrower Portal which allows our borrower charities to report to us online. Data required for quarterly reporting is created over the period and the new system means this can be reported in real time, spreading the reporting workload out. This was a key milestone in our Impact Review that began in spring 2021 and, as with all such projects, it was hard work! I was delighted when it was finally completed.
Ben Rick, CEO
There is something fantastic in reflecting at the end of the year on just how far we have come. Seeing an idea, which was first developed a decade ago, grow into and flourish as a team of such talented and thoughtful individuals, is humbling. SASH II, our second housing fund, was only possible because of the efforts of them all. I am hugely proud of all they have done. What a great year for SASC and the team. I am excited about what 2023 has in store.