I recently had the opportunity to welcome the new Chair of Two Rivers Housing Yvonne Leishman to the Forest of Dean and also to meet the new Corporate Director of Operations, Peter Stoate, at their headquarters in Newent.
Two Rivers Housing is an independent not-for-profit organisation based in the Forest of Dean, which offers affordable housing choices for hard working families. The organisation has nearly 4,000 rental properties and is one of the principal providers of low-cost housing in Gloucestershire and Herefordshire, with rents typically 20% less than what a private landlord would charge. At present, Two Rivers Housing has 13 new schemes across Gloucestershire with around 300 properties at various stages of progression.
The organisation also gets involved in a number of local projects, such as setting up monthly games evenings in Staunton, arts and crafts taster sessions at Lydney Community Centre, and supporting Newent and Cinderford town councils to become dementia-friendly towns.
Together with the Chief Executive Garry King, we discussed some of the key issues faced by Two Rivers’ residents and what the housing association is doing to support them. In particular, we had a presentation outlining the projects being carried out to support some residents with their move to Universal Credit and help with money management. This innovative approach sees Two Rivers Housing working directly with Job Centres and the Department for Work and Pensions to provide proactive support and guidance to its own and prospective tenants.
We also discussed the work of Twocan Estate Agents, a division of Two Rivers Housing. TwoCan branches are run by local housing associations and every penny made in profit is gifted back into investing in local communities. I enjoyed hearing about the exciting plans which Twocan and Two Rivers have for Affordable Homes, Affordable Rent and Shared Ownership across the Forest of Dean.
Good quality homes are essential to the wellbeing of every community in the Forest, and I am always keen to support organisations like Two Rivers Housing, which provide my constituents with the opportunity and security that comes with a good quality home.