Meet the members
Each month we like to talk to a new GUAC member to learn a little more about them.
This month we meet Lisa Denison, Community Investment Director for Sovereign Housing, based in the South and South West of England.
How long have you worked in the housing sector?
“I’ve worked in housing for just over 10 years now, all of that time with Sovereign. My background is in regeneration and active citizenship including with The Body Shop’s international head office team and at Business in the Community, based in Brighton.
What’s your role at Sovereign?
“My team invests in communities and residents and at the moment, a priority focus is to support residents to access training and work opportunities. Sovereign is developing an integrated approach to community investment, reaching into every aspect of the organisation. For example procurement offers us a chance to ask our contractors to deliver a ‘social value’ for local communities.
What’s Sovereign’s background?
“Sovereign was a stock transfer from Newbury District Council and has since brought together other associations from across the south east and south west of England. In 2011 we merged the different subsidiaries into a single legal entity, making us a large association. The recent changes in welfare benefits have brought about a much sharper focus on employment and skills for residents. To assist this we’re raising our game and adopting new practices, providing skilled staff who can help deliver our ambitions for community investment across all regions.
Is this one of the reasons you were interested in joining GUAC?
“Yes, we wanted to be around the table with the key players, to focus on strategic opportunities. It’s the ideal place for us to get up to speed and see the broader national perspective. Speaking to policy makers directly ensures we are helping to influence the agenda for residents.
I recently attended a session where Kirsty McHugh, the CEO of ERSA (the industry body for the Work Programme), provided really helpful insight into current issues and how social landlords can best develop partnerships with her sector. There are lots of interest groups out there, so we really needed to pick and choose where to put our energy.”
Where do you want Sovereign to be in terms of employment and training in five years’ time?
“The key thing for us is about that old cliché, ‘maximising impact’. We cover a really big geographic area so we need to make sure we understand where our investment makes the most difference. The big difference I want to see in five years’ time is many, many more residents in sustainable and satisfying work for all the reasons we understand so well.
I think we can make this more likely if we can develop partnerships and link to other publicly-funded employment and skills programmes.
Right now we want to develop more options for collaborative, exciting opportunities with the Welfare to Work sector so we can assist residents gain employment and GUAC is an important partner in helping us with this process”
Sovereign Housing, covers areas in the South of England including Bristol, Wiltshire,Hampshire, Devon, Dorset,South Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire and Berkshire