A Message from the Acting Chairman
for the year ended 31st December 2016
Giroscope continued its expansion and development during 2016. We renovated 6 empty houses during the course of the year, creating decent, secure and affordable homes for people in housing need. Our volunteering project continued to grow and develop. In addition to the construction work experience and training Giroscope offers, during the year we have created additional volunteering opportunities on our landscaping project and IT/computer project.
At the start of the year Giroscope purchased 69 Coltman Street. This building, formerly a day centre owned by Hull City Council, had been vacant for several years. We have moved Giroscope’s HQ to 69 Coltman Street as we had outgrown the space at Arthur Street; also the property is in a more prominent location enabling our services to be more accessible. We are in the process of creating an enterprise, training and support centre with space and facilities for Giroscope and other voluntary sector organisations, small businesses and community projects.
Included in the purchase of 69 Coltman Street was a piece of land to the rear of the building. On this site we are developing a community self-build scheme for five houses for affordable rent. We have undertaken a feasibility study for the project and are planning to apply for planning permission in 2017, with construction starting in spring 2018. We hope this project will form the pilot to create a sustainable and replicable model for affordable rented homes that we can then use to develop other vacant plots of land in our neighbourhood.
Giroscope, in partnership with Canopy in Leeds was awarded the World Habitat Award for our Self-Help Housing projects in the North of England. The World Habitat Awards is an international award presented by BSHF (Building and Social Foundation) in partnership with UN-Habitat. It recognises practical, innovative and replicable solutions to housing needs and problems. The trophy was presented at Habitat III, the United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development in Quito, Ecuador in October 2016.
In addition to the award BSHF organised a peer exchange to facilitate the transfer of knowledge, experience and best practice and enable the dissemination of innovative housing practice around the world. The participants that visited Giroscope came from other housing projects from around the world including Detroit, California, Canada, Spain and South Africa. During the week we discussed our work in detail, carried out tours of our neighbourhood and introduced them to our volunteers, tenants, staff and board. We explored solutions for empty homes and vacant buildings, training and employment and homelessness/housing. The variety of different people and projects involved in the peer exchange was really valuable and the opportunity to discuss how other projects have tackled similar issues in different contexts was fascinating.
In July we completed a project viability study for the reuse of the former St Matthews Church. St Matthews, a Grade 2 listed building, is located in the heart of our neighbourhood on the corner of Boulevard and Anlaby Road and is a local landmark. This building has been empty for several years and The Church of England is looking to dispose of the property. The project viability report looked at options for the reuse of the building, the costs of the repairs and conversion and the financial strategy. This project viability study was funded by the Architectural Heritage Fund.
During 2016 Giroscope took over the management of Boulevard Village Hall from another charity that withdrew their support. Boulevard Village Hall provides community facilities and room hire for local groups.