The Boards of Fold and Helm Housing Associations have in principle approved an ambitious plan to create a new association, with a new name, identity and vision which will provide more than 12,000 homes across Northern Ireland.
Initial plans for the merger were announced in May of this year and the organisations will now embark on a period of consultation with stakeholders before seeking formal consent from shareholders and statutory authorities to enable the merger to be completed in full.
It is anticipated that the consultations and the approval process will conclude in early 2017 and the merged association will come into operation on 1st April, 2017. It will have a significant, positive impact on society, managing more than 12,000 homes, providing services for around 30,000 households and employing close to 1,000 staff.
The new and improved association will offer enhanced services to those living in Helm Housing and Fold Housing homes. It has ambitious plans to increase social investment, deliver apprenticeship and employment schemes for local communities, and invest in ICT to improve choice and service delivery.
In its first five years the social enterprise is forecast to increase its assets to £1.25bn and its turnover to £110m, whilst investing around £325m in the local construction and contracting industry.
If the merger proceeds some staff relocations will be necessary, however the Boards of both Helm and Fold have agreed that no compulsory redundancies will take place.
Speaking following the decision, Fold Housing Chair Diana Fitzsimons said:
“Fold and Helm are committed to delivering the next chapter in both organisations’ story. We have a combined vision for the future which will see us continuing to enable and support people of all ages to live in the community through a range of traditional, innovative and technological housing solutions. Demand for our services is growing and we are confident that merging with Helm Housing will place us in a strong position.”
Helm Housing Association Chair, Liz Cuddy said:
“This is an exciting time for Helm and for Fold and the merger will help us to make a real and lasting difference to the people and communities that we serve. Between us there is over 80 years’ experience and we at Helm look forward to bringing our expertise together with that of Fold to supply high quality, affordable housing for a wide range of people across Northern Ireland. Together we are well-placed to deliver on the ambitious targets set for our future, which will see quality homes provided for our tenants, including people with disabilities, homeless families and vulnerable individuals.”