Fiona Mactaggart steps down from Commonweal after 17 years, with legacy in place
Long-standing member of Commonweal Housing, the Rt Honorable Fiona Mactaggart, has become an Honorary Patron of the charity, stepping down from the Board of Trustees after 17 years.
Mactaggart, who served as a Member of Parliament for Slough from 1997 to 2017, leaves a lasting legacy at Commonweal, having shaped the vision and trajectory of the charity as Chair for 13 years from 2006 before stepping down in 2019.
Under Mactaggart’s stewardship and her subsequent further four-year spell as a Trustee, Commonweal has grown from the appointment of the first paid employee of the charity in 2010 to a diverse and growing multi-departmental team, helping to oversee the development of over a dozen property-based pilot projects that have tested housing solutions to a range of social injustices.
Most pertinently, Mactaggart was heavily involved in the development of Commonweal’s flagship project, Re-Unite. The project, developed in partnership with charities Women in Prison and Housing for Women, was established in response to the problems faced by women trying to rebuild a stable family life when released from prison.
The project supported mothers leaving prison – who other research showed without family caring responsibilities are at increased risk of homelessness and re-offending – to regain custody of their children and enhance their stability through specialist accommodation and support.
Mactaggart has been a vociferous and ardent campaigner on social issues in Britain. She has dedicated much of her career to tackling the injustices facing women and girls. Mactaggart’s two decades in Parliament included serving in the Home Office as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Criminal Justice, Race and Victims.
Mactaggart is taking a step back from the formal duties of the Board of Commonweal, but will continue to be a part of the charity’s future as an Honorary Patron. She joins the Board of Trustees at Anawim, a women’s centre and a partner on Commonweal project Re-Unite.
The Honorary Patron role was created to celebrate individuals who have championed social causes aligned to Commonweal’s objectives and who have supported the organisation. Mactaggart joins Baroness Corston, the former Member of Parliament for Bristol East and advocate and supporter of the Re-Unite project, and founding member of Commonweal Housing and original chair, her bother, Sir John A. Mactaggart, Bt.
Commonweal is an independent charity but remains proud of its lineage and history as an off-shoot of the Mactaggart family philanthropic legacy. Beyond Fiona Mactaggart’s stewardship of Commonweal, the Mactaggart family involvement in the management and oversight of the charity continues through her niece, Aphra Mactaggart – Commonweal’s most recent Trustee appointment, and Jack Mactaggart, the charity’s current Chair.
Ashley Horsey, Chief Executive at Commonweal Housing, said: “I am proud to have been given the opportunity by Fiona as the charity’s first paid employee 14 years ago to help shape Commonweal with her guidance and support. As Chair she was encouraging, supportive as well as challenging, impatient for change and inquisitive – the best sort of charity Chair. I am delighted Fiona is remaining involved with Commonweal not least in continuing to head up our annual Jane Slowey Memorial Bursary celebrations supporting third year students at the School of Social Policy at the University of Birmingham named after our long-term Trustee and much-missed friend.”
Jack Mactaggart, Chair of Board of Trustees at Commonweal Housing, said: “Commonweal owes Fiona a great depth of gratitude for her enormous contribution to its success. It is no exaggeration to say that we would not exist today if it had not been for her efforts, and her time at Commonweal is yet another example of how she has made a lasting positive impact on the world.”
Fiona Mactaggart, Honorary Patron of Commonweal Housing, said: “I will miss Commonweal, which was always about imagining a different way of using housing to end a social injustice. I love its willingness to try things out and make mistakes, too often voluntary organisations can’t afford to risk getting it a bit wrong. With Commonweal they can, it learns from mistakes to help its partners do better in the future. It will be a privilege to work with Commonweal and Birmingham University to continue the tradition of supporting students which we instituted after the death of Jane Slowey, who did so much for Commonweal and for Birmingham.”