Canopy Annual Report 2020-21

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Annual Report


2020 - 2021

A board meeting of a different kind ...

It’s been a tough year ... Few would have predicted in 2020 that a year on we would still be in the midst of a pandemic. And yet as I write, here we are again, hoping to hear that it might finally be safe enough for society to return to “normal” Many of us, our staff, volunteers and tenants included, have lost loved ones along the way. There is no doubt it has been a tough year and my thoughts are with the bereaved, who number far too many. We knew 2020 would be challenging, but I think most of us underestimated just how long it would take to throw off the shackles of lockdown. Prohibited from working face-to-face with people, we had to withdraw from the EU-funded CHOPS project, which had aimed to help people into employment, education and training through self-help.

David on site

Instead, we started delivering support sessions online; we worked with Leeds Mencap, delivering groceries and medicine to vulnerable people across Leeds; and our office-based staff doubled as site workers so that we could carry on turning empty houses into homes for the homeless.

We took out a bounce-back loan (now paid back) to plug the temporary hole in our finances whilst we sought new sources of funding. In October, the answer to our prayers came in the form of grants from Power to Change, Big Issue Invest and The National Lottery, which allowed us to retain staff to develop new training courses for young people, to refurbish our offices and to purchase new toolkits, laptops and PPE for volunteers and trainees on their return. Our offices are unrecognizable: The ground floors are now bright, clean and welcoming for volunteers, trainees, tenants and the local community: No more fighting through a maze of old sofas, cookers, desks and cabinets. With brand new lockers, wash-up facilities, kitchenettes, large screen displays for training and lightweight furniture, our volunteers now have a space they can feel proud to call their own.

As I write, we are welcoming them back on site in increasing numbers; our second cohort of trainees have joined us; and our offices are ready to re-open. We are working towards becoming a registered provider of social housing and have already started finding jobs and placements for volunteers and trainees again. There are exciting times ahead and I look forward to seeing our sites and offices busy again! 2020-21 has been challenging but as ever, we would not have been able to do what we do without financial backing from the charitable trusts who support us, Leeds City Council and our lenders Unity Bank. There have been fewer self-helpers and volunteers over the last year, but their support has been invaluable, and I am particularly proud of our staff who have adapted and stepped up to work so hard during tough times. Thank you every one of you. Take care and stay safe. David Nugent - Director

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Penpushing to Paintbrushing! a year like no other...

Office staff step into the void During the first lockdown our volunteer programme was suspended. After a quick rethink, Canopy office staff rolled up their sleeves and helped our site workers renovate houses, to continue providing homes for people in need.

It might have been a difficult year, but Canopy managed to ... Provide homes to people in housing crisis Refocus tenant support to offer telephone and online support Continue to acquire and renovate properties Deliver food parcels & medicine to people who were shielding Develop a trainee programme to help young people into construction Provide each volunteer & trainee with their own tool kit & PPE Fully refurbish both Canopy offices


- Self-helper & tenant

I’m from Cameroon. I was homeless and I had no place to live, it was really a very terrible situation. When I heard of Canopy and they offered to help me, I was so happy, all of a sudden, I have a roof!

My family were involved in fighting for equal rights in Cameroon. I had been to prison, the police locked me up several times and it got to the point when I was supposed to be killed because of my ideologies. When I came to the UK, I ended up sleeping in the streets, going from one place to another. Then, I met a man and I explained my story to him. I didn’t know anything about asylum, so he told me, your circumstances show clearly that if you go back to Cameroon you’re not going to survive, so he told me to go to Home Office and register for asylum. Canopy embrace you into a family of happy people, of people that are willing to help you. I am so happy to be involved in Canopy. I loved volunteering, because I was so lonely prior to working on my house. I was so happy, because I had people to communicate with, I learnt some skills, because I’ve never done this before. I was able to paint and fill holes in the house. It really helped me a lot. Canopy is an exceptional place, it gives life back to you. Those that lose hope in their lives like me, they gave me life and they gave me hope.


- volunteer

I started volunteering a year before lockdown

and it was much better than I thought it was going to be. I was really scared of power tools before volunteering, scared of cutting my fingers, but now I’m much more confident using them. I have mental health problems, but Canopy has helped me with this a lot. The support is really good, they ask if I am ok and ‘how’s your mental health today?’ Basically, I went through court after an abusive relationship, my ex-partner was very controlling and I suffered with PTSD. Having something to shape your day is important. Volunteering gives me some structure and it’s a friendly and fun environment. We’re always singing into our paint brushes, using them like microphones, and music is a big part of site work. We’re actually doing something for homeless people and that’s great! During lockdown I couldn’t volunteer but Canopy often called me to check how I was doing. I wasn’t happy during lockdown, it was my year to get sorted, getting on to courses etc. I really struggled being completely stuck in the house with my 5 year old son, I felt agoraphobic, started drinking and I ended up getting counselling at Forward Leeds. I really missed Canopy and I kept asking Jasmine, ‘when can I come back? I really need to come back, I don’t mind if I get Covid, oh please!’ Anyhow, I’ve been back at Canopy a month now and it’s great!

Volunteering & Self-help

- welcome back!

The volunteering programme is at the heart of everything we do at Canopy. Having to phone our 30 volunteers in March 2020 and tell them we would be pausing indefinitely was so tough. However, in September 2020 we were able to start trialling having a limited number of volunteers back. We now have 12 volunteers back and are slowly increasing as it is safe to do so. We have already had reason to celebrate with 4 volunteers finding employment since starting back with us! The covid-reshuffle has also meant we are now able to offer each volunteer their own tool kit and PPE. No more sharing sweaty boots and tools! It’s going to take a bit more time till we are fully there, but it really does feel like we are coming back stronger than ever. A huge thank you to all our volunteers who have stayed dedicated to Canopy throughout the pandemic. We are over the moon to be welcoming them back!

Skills for Harehills In early 2021 we were excited to launch our brand new Skills for Harehills training program. This was in response to so many young people in the local area facing long-term unemployment. Our scheme is aimed at assisting young people from Harehills and the surrounding area, who want to work in construction, but are hitting significant barriers to employment. Our comprehensive 6-week course covers everything young people need to know about health and safety in construction. They also have the fantastic opportunity of learning a range of renovation skills & gaining valuable experience by helping us to bring empty properties back into use. In addition, they receive one-on-one support from our Training and Skills Coordinator, who helps them with their CVs, job applications, getting CSCS cards, college placements and so much more! Being able to deliver our training face-to-face in our new COVID secure offices has been amazing for the trainees. It has improved their confidence and mental health. It’s been highly satisfying to see the huge benefits of our programme, including the progression of the young people during their time with us and the fact that some of them have got full-time paid employment already! We look forward to keeping up the momentum and helping as many young people as possible.

We all need homes


This year has been a challenging one for everyone. For us, it was losing all our volunteers for nearly the whole year - we have really missed them being on site with us. Volunteers help us a lot, so it was hard to refurbish our properties without them. However, thanks to our property workers we never stopped site. We also organised things so that we had 4 sites on the go simultaneously and we had the help of the office staff that transformed themselves into site workers for the occasion. During the year we delivered 13 properties. 4 of these were part of our right to buy (RTB) ongoing programme. We also refurbished our offices to make them covid secure, to create a safe working environment for our volunteers, tenants & staff.

Revenue & Refurbs Canopy owns or manages 77 homes with an asset base valued at £4.9M. Last year, our borrowing increased by 22% to more than £1M to help support the refurbishment of empty homes. Here are some of the highlights from our 2020 accounts that may be found at

Money raised by Canopy Housing:

How we spent the money we raised:

£630,944 rental income £415,718 on salaries £141,978 revenue grants £239,193 on property purchases £90,700 capital grants £81,854 on refurbishing empty homes £6,245 donations £129,125 on property maintenance £31,977 office costs £49,322 other revenue costs We cannot deliver our volunteering, self-help and community support without the backing of charitable trusts and private donors. If you would like to support Canopy, then please visit Workload tends to keep Canopy’s office workers off-site; so a silver lining to the cloud of this dreadful pandemic was that all staff helped out on site whilst our tremendous volunteers were unavailable. As Finance Manager, I also helped on site and found it both a productive and uplifting experience. I didn’t realise the extent of the works we do - the insulation preventing drafts from the basement, for example, was so impressive and necessary. I was delighted to see the care and attention that goes into decorating and then finally furnishing the property. I was really proud to see the finished property that Canopy provides to people in the local community. I wish that all houses provided in Leeds were of this quality.

Thank you for your help Volunteers: Valentine, Darren, Ebony, Matt, Alex, Andrew F, Andrew J, Chris, Danny, Eve, Kathryn, Leroy, Lionel, Molly, Che, Self-helpers: Shea, Kelvin, Kelsey. Trainees: Damian, Abi, Jabbi, Owen, Amy, Danny, Luca, Josef. All our tenants, staff and contractors. Board: Keith, Mark, Bridget, Janet, Steve, Mhairi, Martyn, Meena. Backers: LandAid, Leeds Community Foundation, The Big Issue Invest, Power to change, Social Investment Business, Social Enterprise Support Fund, HM Government, The National Lottery Community Fund, The Henry Smith Charity, Liz & Terry Bramall Foundation, The Ubele initiative. A big thank you to Bundobust and all individual donors who give as they earn, make one off payments or donate on monthly direct debits. Friends, Partners and Associates: Michael Wicks at Unity Trust Bank, Debbie Lamb, Tony, Cass and the rest of the team at Locality, Steve Ellis at Tekspertise, Paul Beetham at Kingfisher Windows, Campus 87, Giroscope, LATCH, GIPSIL, Leeds Community Homes, Jon Fitzmaurice, Chris Bailey, Gill Coupland, Same Skies Think Tank, Cleanstart, Leeds MENCAP, VAL (Giving Time), Councillor Debra Coupar. Neil Evans, Mark Ireland, Sarbjit Kaur, Ian Kenning, Grace Lawrenson and Neil Young at Leeds City Council, Andy Haigh at Bellbrooke Surgery, Amber Wilson, David Glew, James Shedlow, Steve Hoey, Tim Wrigley, David Knight, Laura Masheder, Tracey Jukes, John Puddephatt, Leeds Printing Company, CATCH, Harehills in Bloom, Nowell Community Group and Burmantofts Residents & Tenants Association, Gillian at A&V Transitional Homes, Our Way Leeds, Think Employment, Lisa from Jobskilla, Engage Leeds, Forging Futures, Leeds College of Building, Anna Lysakowska, Harehills Community Watch, Chris Sylvester - Howarth Foundation, Christina Rosca, Richard Panter, Steve Keyes, Michael Braithwaite, Sophie Michelana, Jo Williams, Sean Tizzard, Stepan Zelinger, Christiana Adewale, Balfour Beatty and Squire Patton Boggs, The Landmark Trust, Bellbrookes & Coldcotes Avenue Residents.

‘The homeless people doing volunteering get a lot out of it and it’s great for me as a volunteer to be able to help’ Andrew - volunteer ‘It’s like a turning point in my life, all of sudden, I have a roof!’ Kelvin- self-helper & tenant ‘Canopy is a place where you refurb houses & have fun while you do it!’ Kate- volunteer ‘Thanks Canopy for your help & guidance and for giving me a purpose to want to work again’ Kirsty - volunteer

‘My wife, wherever she goes, she tells everyone about Canopy, how much they help us’ Liviu & Maricica - new tenants 2020

‘Even when I wasn’t doing the plastering right, Mark let me try again & again’ Damian - trainee

‘Any kind of problem I don’t understand and I can’t solve, I come here and I get help’ Liviu - tenant

‘I feel productive and a part of something’

Burley Office 66 Burley Lodge Road Leeds LS6 1QF Harehills Office 41 Bellbrooke Place Leeds LS9 6AR 0113 294 6868 Email us: Visit us:

Canopy Housing is a registered society under the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014. Regulated by the FCA number 28665R. Exempt charity status number XR21692