Trinity Homeless Projects is a registered charity in West London, which provides housing pathways for people affected by homelessness. The Riverside Project started three years ago when one of my colleagues took me to a pretty rundown old hotel that was up for sale and sold me a vision of how that hotel could be turned into supported housing. She wanted to create 41 micro studios from the hotel rooms. The site was on the banks of a river, surrounded by trees and a nature reserve. I saw the vision and made the decision that day to find the money for the project.
We looked for social investors because we figured it would be essential with this kind of project to have a critical friend along for the ride. Someone that bought into not just the business side of how this project would work, but also the philosophy of what we were trying to achieve. Our view was that whatever happened from the business perspective, as long as we’re on the same page with what we’re trying to achieve, things could be overcome.
We knew that we needed investment to deliver a project like this. And we were confident in our own processes. We just needed to convince someone to invest in it. We didn’t really have that confidence in mainstream funders like banks, and probably the banks didn’t have that kind of confidence in us.
When we met SASC it is fair to say there was some negotiation and convincing both ways. But ultimately what I was impressed by when we met SASC was the questions we were asked. They weren’t just business questions. SASC wanted to know where we are going, what we are doing – and why. You looked under the bonnet of Trinity and challenged us, and it gave me the confidence to think that you were confident in our ability to deliver it. It became a self-serving process.
And, despite all the tough times with getting the renovations and the project over the finishing line, it was my belief that you believed in us that kept us going. This project has been a real test for both Trinity and SASC and tested our partnership. But there is a roadmap that can be gleaned from our experience together.
One thing I have taken away is having the right legal support. We had pro bono legal support which meant that we didn’t always have advice and legal input when we needed it. With hindsight, with a complex project like this, having a legal team on hand when you need them would be better.
Looking to the future, our view is that we want to continue to grow. We want to be able to provide a solution that gives everyone a home and at least a bed for the night. We also want to find other partners to work on affordable housing, because that is the silver bullet right now. We don’t have enough of it and we need to create more of it. So as soon as we cut the ribbon on this project, we will be coming back to SASC again to make another plan.
Steve Hedley CEO, Trinity Homeless Projects