Exploring funding for new sheltered housing

The Sheppard Trust

“Action Planning tackled what we really needed and were responsive and very useful. Their report has focused our minds. They were also very patient and flexible in terms of getting the timing right for us.”

Clare Scott-Booth, CEO, The Sheppard Trust

The Sheppard Trust is a charitable housing trust, based in west London, that provides sheltered homes for older women in housing need. They were keen to explore potential funding opportunities for the development of a new facility at East Molesey in Surrey, which would replace existing housing units in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea and double the number of units available.

They approached a couple of organisations and felt Action Planning had the best understanding of what they wanted and a more comprehensive approach. Our recommendation of putting a team together went down well. We also had some familiarity with the Trust, having done some previous work for them.

The development comprised two phases, phase 1 being the building of a new care home for another charity adjacent to the existing building, phase 2 being the demolition of the existing structure and the building of 60 new housing units. We were asked to explore the funding potential for the community elements of phase 2. The existing buildings had been sold on a sale and lease back arrangement, so we had to wait for the right time to begin. 

We put together an experienced team led by Andrew Rainsford, with Kathryn Kendall, Kathryn Slack and David Saint. Andrew liaised with Sheppard Trust CEO Clare Scott Booth. The team explored almost 500 voluntary funders and whittled this down to less than 50. This research led us to a potential funder who was very willing to accept an application for the housing element. 

Through further conversations with funders we also discovered the potential for support from the Local Enterprise Partnership for Surrey and Citybridge Foundation, both of which threw up questions of geography on which we sought clarification.

Andrew presented our findings in a comprehensive report, a large section of which was a rewriting of the Case for Support. The report contained the following recommendations: Line up bid writing support as soon as possible; Focus efforts on trusts and foundations; Develop a formal business plan; Re-examine budgets regularly. In addition, we offered some ideas on the other aspects of their plan, eg the operation of the cafe in the new building.

The Sheppard Trust welcomed our recommendations and began acting on them quickly. “It’s been very useful,” said Clare. “It gives us a way forward to do some fundraising bids and we’ve taken on bid writing support and are focusing on trusts. What was not necessarily expected was some of the ideas that came through, such as how the cafe could be operated, that we’re now exploring.”

Consultant’s insight
This was an interesting assignment for a number of reasons – not least my parents live in a similar complex and, during my father’s final illness, I was able to see the importance of community to my mother. It is vital that there is more than just the minimum available to people and that is the ethos of The Sheppard Trust, Clare, and this project.

Researching the “finishing” was also a change. The bulk of the funding was already in place. This assignment gave some head space to suggest some ideas on operation and community connections in a geographic area new to the trust. An effective consultant explores the what, the why, the where, the when and the how. When these all align a very exciting project results.

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