I’ve had a long association with LandAid, and one that gives me a huge sense of pride.
I well recall Mike Slade telling me back in the early noughties when I was chief executive of the British Property Federation about his plans to turn a tiny charity, run by enthusiasts with day jobs, into a real force for good in the property industry with a professional support staff.
I was delighted to broker an arrangement that has lasted until today whereby LandAid shares the BPF’s offices – and was even more delighted to serve as a trustee on the board until retiring from the BPF in 2014.
Being asked to take on the chair role was a great honour, which I enthusiastically embraced, not least because of the potential to unite our industry to end one problem: youth homelessness.
But after a four-year tour of duty, it is time to pass on the baton. A group of our trustees has begun searching for a new chair to lead LandAid for the next three to six years, to the end of its current strategy and on to its next; someone to build on what we’ve achieved and lead LandAid to even greater success.
My time as chair has been challenging, exciting and enjoyable, to a large extent due to the pleasure of working with our exceptional chief executive Paul Morrish and his dedicated and enthusiastic staff. In this time, LandAid has built up a cadre of dedicated supporters in the shape of 85 foundation partners; established a group of 300 young ambassadors; embedded firmly in the industry its programme of more than 60 companies providing free property advice to charitable projects; and nearly doubled its income.
But perhaps our greatest achievement has been to move from being a grant-making body into a charity that works with partners to convert buildings into homes for young people who have experienced homelessness. Only this week, we saw the topping out of LandAid House, where our funds helped rebuild the City YMCA hostel to create 146 beds for vulnerable young people.
LandAid is uniquely positioned between the charity sector and business, where it has built real expertise in harnessing one particular sector to use its business for good. At the heart of this relationship are LandAid’s board and committees, which determine its strategy and impact, oversee the executive’s work and scope its future. These bodies are unique in the charity world, just as LandAid is unique, bringing together some of the industry’s most senior professionals, from British Land to Landsec, from SEGRO to Knight Frank.
All of these professionals are dedicated to solving one problem. Youth homelessness continues to rise across the UK. Centrepoint estimates that more than 100,000 young people will experience homelessness this year. That is 100,000 too many. But with the right leadership and direction, it is something that can be solved.
The next chair will need to be a champion for LandAid in the industry and to use their network and influence to promote what we do and how we do it. With the rest of the board, this individual will be responsible for driving LandAid’s mission forward and upholding its values. This isn’t just about traditional fundraising – although I’m sure LandAid will carry on being fun, with its 10K and other events; it will be about uniting businesses, charities and local authorities to create lasting change to tackle youth homelessness.
Being LandAid’s chair has made me so proud – I’ve enjoyed it immensely and know that whoever is next will move the charity forward in a new and refreshing way. I am sure they will enjoy working closely with Paul and the LandAid team. They will be joining a unique and unrivalled network of property professionals, from senior leaders to young executives, united in wanting to create lasting change for young people in our country.