Colin has been working in housing development at BCHA for seven years. He works with residents who require support in their daily life, as well as looking after homes for those who live independently.

Day-to-day, Colin has a range of responsibilities from managing BCHA’s relationship with local authorities, to working on planning applications with architects and building contractors:

“After studying law in the 80’s, I got into housing by working in a Citizens Advice Bureau and a Law Centre. The council weren’t paying out for housing repairs properly because they wanted to sell the homes under Thatcher’s “right-to-buy” scheme. And that’s how I developed a specialism for landlords and housing issues.

BCHA is a really caring organisation and one of the few housing associations that is supporting the most vulnerable people in the South West. It has a lot of hard work to do though – I can currently see a huge shortage of housing, which has only worsened over the years. So many housing associations struggle to provide enough homes for people, especially supported housing like hostels, women’s refuges and emergency housing.

We also now have to find a lot more of our own money for social housing than ever before – for every £100k we spend we need to subsidise £20k, which is a substantial increase.

“A lot of stress and toil goes into a project, but once the building has reached a certain stage where you think “I could live in this place”, I remember why I do it.”

Recently, we’ve been working on a refurbishment at the 10 St. Paul’s centre. With £1.5million of government money, we managed to carry out a full-scale overhaul. Using a Psychologically Informed Environment (PIE) ethos, we changed the layout, the colours, and the furnishings to support the wellbeing of the people living there. We even added a café, en-suite bedrooms, a doctor’s surgery and a gym – facilities that are also shared with the community. The transformation of the environment has given a huge boost of motivation to the residents, which is great to see.

Every time we see the finished product like this I feel immensely proud. A lot of stress and toil goes into it – getting all the sign-offs and administration done – but once the building has reached a certain stage where you think “I could live in this place”, I remember why I do it.

I often receive feedback from the residents and families that have lived in the properties, and it’s generally along the lines of either “BCHA has changed my life” or “BCHA has saved my life”, which keeps us all motivated to keep going.”

Colin’s piece of advice for changemaking:

“Have a goal and stick to it – persistence is key.”

  • £500 can provide Art as Relaxation sessions, including materials, for up to 90 people
  • £1,000 would help 10 victims of modern slavery with welcome packs, underwear and clothing
  • £3,000 would pay for an Ignite Work Club session to run every week for a year
  • £9,000 would allow up to 90 learners to complete a level 1 Skills for Supporting Others course