It’s only four months since the all new Torus was formed. Yet, in that time, the group has divided the business into four distinct areas: landlord, developer, builder and contractor and finally, charity. Ahead of the launch of the group’s new social impact arm, the Torus Foundation, we caught up with Torus Foundation MD, Kate Shone, and Paul Worthington, MD of HMS, who will be gifting the charity £5m to invest in social change each year.
So, what exactly is the Torus Foundation?
Kate: We are a charity set up by Torus to develop better connected, independent and more sustainable communities in the areas we work. We do this by working at the heart of the community, earning the trust of the people who live there. We deliver a range of projects which cover four primary themes (or ‘pillars’ as we call them) which are employment, health and wellbeing, financial inclusion and digital inclusion.
We work hand in hand with the other Torus Group members so not only do we offer great homes for people to live in, we want to help them to live the best life they can.
We’ve got a great team to support us too. The Foundation joins together the Social Impact Team from Torus, ComMutual in Liverpool and New Leaf in Warrington. Bringing the teams together will enable the Foundation to reach more people and deliver services that change lives.
Don’t most social housing organisations usually invest in their communities? How’s this different?
Kate: The straight answer is yes, but over the years social investment has changed across the sector and the 1% rent reduction in particular has had a significant impact for social landlords with quite a few really pulling back on their social investments. So that’s where Torus Foundation is different.
From 2022 we will be gifted £5m each year from HMS, Torus’ contracting business, and Torus Developments, to support and sustain our initiatives. Not only is this a huge sum of money, it’s dependable income which means we’re better able to plan meaningful activities that make an ongoing difference in our communities in Liverpool, St Helens and Warrington. It also gives us the leverage to partner with local agencies and attract additional funding to really cement our impact.
Paul: As the group’s construction and maintenance arm, our teams work in our neighbourhoods and interact with communities on a daily basis. So, from our perspective, working to produce a profit that will contribute to change in our local areas is hugely rewarding. Yes, we’re under pressure to ensure that the surplus is maximised but knowing that this money is actively making a difference and changing lives gives staff a clear purpose and drive to achieve it.
So, what will the Torus Foundation do?
Kate: We believe that where you live shouldn’t dictate the life chances you’re dealt and yet, very often, it does. We’re working hard to redress the balance and provide equality of opportunity for anyone living in the areas we serve.
That could mean better access to training and jobs. Help understanding and using digital technology. Support around income management for greater financial independence. Or initiatives that foster improved health and wellbeing for old and young alike.
Paul: The Foundation is the perfect complement to what we do as a business in terms of achieving our outcomes. Where our staff are involved in transforming places through building new homes and regenerating existing ones, Kate’s work is much more focused on our residents. In this way we’re not just financially invested in our communities, we’re emotionally invested in them too.
Kate: Paul’s right. Places are important but people define them. So, our work is very much about collaboration with local people and organisations. We ask, we listen and then we act. We work with the people in our local communities to drive local-led action that addresses local needs and creates opportunities.
What’s the most rewarding part of the job?
Kate: The most rewarding part of what I do is seeing the impact of our investment. When we make an offer of a great home to someone, we can help them with so much more. Whether it’s someone getting a job, or getting a better job, a child attending FireFit Hub, an individual developing their confidence in using the computer or helping someone to reduce their debt – the list is endless.
But the thing that really drives me is actually seeing the real impact for the people we work with – it’s totally personal to them. I love receiving feedback from customers. Our Team does a great job and I am really proud of them.
Find out more about the Torus Foundation here.