Whitebeam Homes on Arran
When we initially discovered Sannox Church the owners, the United Reformed Church (URC), wanted to develop the site for affordable housing as this is an important issue on the island. Our initial proposal for a Christian retreat centre therefore included two affordable housing units. However, further discussions with the local community, north Ayrshire Council and two housing associations led us to the conclusion that the site was not suitable for that purpose. We then submitted an amended proposal that set out the Sannox Christian Centre (SCC) as is currently planned plus the formation of a separate affordable housing trust, supported by SCC.
The basic idea was to form a charitable trust fund that would buy houses on Arran already on the market and rent these on an affordable basis to people on Arran who needed housing. This would place people in existing communities and avoid the unhelpful labeling which often afflicts affordable housing developments. The funds would come from altruistic business people who recognized the need and would gift money, or give on an interest free basis, into the fund. More and more businesses now have social objectives as part of their philosophy. This could be supplemented by other bodies such as central or local government. We tested this with two large housing associations who both felt that this was an innovative and exciting addition to the toolkit of affordable housing.
Our proposal was then submitted to URC who enthusiastically welcomed it, agreed to sell Sannox Church and buildings to our charity and proposed that SCC, URC and the Scottish Churches Housing Action (SCHA) group form a new charity to develop the idea and launch the scheme on Arran. They also offered to seed the new fund with an initial £100,000.
So Whitebeam was formed and formally launched. Whitebeam has received many inquires from other areas of Scotland who are interested in the idea.
So why is SCC involved with Whitebeam? As you may know SCC is based on the principles and practices of Celtic Christianity applied to today. The Celtic mission was centred on three things – personal devotion to God, service to the community and mission. They were involved with the local community often offering education, health and creative arts to local people. Sannox is following the same path. We are interested in the issues and problems faced by the local community and as an act of Christian service want to help where we can. That is why we are involved with Whitebeam. We are a founder member and have a Trustee on the Board. Although Whitebeam is entirely separate from SCC we will take an active part in promoting it and helping to develop it in the future. We commend Whitebeam to you and ask you to support it in your prayers.
For brochure see WhiteBeam Homes
See extract from Scottish Churches Housing Action newsletter Arran first for Whitebeam
Whitebeam homes was initiated by Sannox Christian Centre who remain one of three partners in the charity along with United Reformed Church and Scottish Churches Housing Action.
In 2014, Whitebeam Homes acquired its first property, a former council house in Brodick. Since then, two families have occupied the house – both tenants working on the island but unable to afford local private rents. The present tenants are a family who were living apart before getting our tenancy – and have been able expand their family as a result of the security and stability offered by Whitebeam Homes.
To date, Whitebeam Homes has been unable to take on other properties: the current plan, however, is to find at least two more on Arran, before buying properties elsewhere in Scotland.
Please visit the new Whitebeam Homes website (link on SCC home page)