Our core skills are centered on creating robust business models with set measurable outcomes subjected to strict quality control criteria, in order to get to the heart of solving a social injustice through the provision of a combination of housing and support services.

These business models are operated within thorough risk management procedures acknowledging the vulnerability of service users and ensures, as far as is practical, their protection as well as their opportunities to develop as people.

The high aspirations set for our projects means intense effort is put into the creation of the projects and their operations. Both Commonweal and its partners need the right culture and size of resources to work to achieve these aspirations. This intensity of effort means we restrict the number of projects in the start-up phase – rolling out the projects in a controlled and consistent way.

We are an organisation that is willing to try something new without being reckless – we use effective risk management techniques – but even with our limited resources we will absorb costs or accept the limited success of projects if necessary. We learn from these events for future projects and continue to challenge unsuccessful conventional solutions.

Download our Strategic Plan for 2017-20 for more details.

Mission, vision and values

Commonweal Housing seeks to challenge social injustice by incubating new, innovative solutions, centred around housing.

We give these pilot projects the space, time and insulation from risk to be able to grow and most importantly to learn from where things don’t necessarily go right.

From each pilot project we aim to start a ripple of change for beneficiaries that spread through practitioners and policy makers. As the project is replicated the social injustice is tackled at the front line while a momentum builds around policy change.

Leadership, partnership, learning, action.

That’s how we tackle social injustice.

Our 10 Criteria

The route to creating role model projects that solve social injustices is not easy. For example, we need to be certain that we are breaking new ground and not simply doing what has been done before sufficiently well but simply needs promoting. Similarly, we need to stretch ourselves to make sure that we really do make big steps forward through our projects. To help us apply this discipline before considering a potential project, we initially test it against the following 10-Criteria:

  1. The pilot project should ideally be able to be established in an area where the Charity feels it has the resources, knowledge and capacity to engage actively with the delivery partner. This could be London, the wider south east or other major metropolitan areas with easy travel links to the capital e.g. Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds etc.  Commonweal will seek to replicate projects nationwide where needs exist and where suitable partners can be found.
  2. The project must either solve a housing need that is not currently being solved or endeavour to solve a need in a significant and measurable better way than is being achieved by current solutions.
  3. The project must be supported by demonstrating a clear understanding of the details of the housing need being experienced by people with that need.
  4. The project will be operated in a spirit of openness to offer learning and help for those who would want to replicate the prototype on a larger scale.
  5. The project must be suitable for being developed as a prototype role model striving for best practice at all stages.
  6. The prototype project, when proven, should be suitable for being replicated on a larger scale by other organisations.
  7. The medium to long-term performance of the project must be assessed according to the criteria set by third party experts who will measure and report on performance at pre-determined frequencies.
  8. Commonweal Housing will principally provide the housing or the finance for the housing element of the project but will work with partners on securing revenue funding where necessary.
  9. The project must go through rigorous levels of scrutiny and due diligence to test viability.
  10. The project must be within a 7 – 12 year period, return Commonweal’s initial housing investment according to agreed terms so that it can be recycled in other housing projects.

Our Proof of Concept

Our projects are, in effect, tools with two goals. Firstly they should motivate others to replicate widely our solutions to social injustices. Secondly, they should justify a campaign for changes in public policy. For this reason, we aim to develop projects that will have irrefutably successful outcomes, achieved within viable, operational templates.

The terms and conditions applied to our projects, we believe, helps to achieve this. However, as an innovative organisation we also understand that when trying new models and new ideas, outcomes may not always be as originally projected or proposed. Crucial to the Commonweal Housing rationale is the desire to ensure lessons are learnt that will aid positive delivery and solutions to social injustice in the future. We believe this therefore also requires input from an impartial third party evaluator. For that reason core to the Commonweal Housing offer is that we sponsor experts in the field of social justice that we are attempting to resolve to operate with us and our partners in a feedback loop aiming to achieve proof of concept within two to three years.

As well as applying “a fresh pair of eyes” to our projects, these experts also contribute new ideas to drive the partners to try even harder to “raise the bar”.

We welcome approaches from experts in any area of social injustice where they could help us with this evaluation process because often this can lead us to creating and delivering new solutions. Please contact us with your ideas.