East Cheshire Housing Consortium

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by East Cheshire Housing Consortium's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from East Cheshire Housing Consortium is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles


Brenda Wright, CEO
The Weston
recreational area
East Cheshire Housing Consortium was established 28 years
ago for the purpose of resettling patients after their discharge
from nearby Parkside Hospital. With the assistance of a group
of governors and doctors related to the hospital, the consortium
was founded. It was providing a good service and helping its
residents do well, but for almost ten years did not expand. In 2000,
a pivotal point occurred when government funding for supported
living changed. The consortium faced two options, neither of
which were agreeable: merging with another local housing group,
or closing its doors. It was at this time that Brenda Wright, CEO as
of 2015, was appointed the new business development manager.
In 2000, we housed just 22 individuals; now we house over 100, and take people
from not just the East Cheshire area, but all across the UK. We have opened
almost a home a year since 2001, all without government funding. This growth
and development has been the result of a strong fundamental ethos: ECHC houses
the unhousable. We house clients in homes that we would be prepared to live in
ourselves; these standards are replicated irrespective of the background of theclient.
We provide support and housing for people with mental health issues. We offer
anything from three-bed specialist 24-hour forensic housing – for people with
backgrounds in prisons or high-security hospitals – to an eight-bed home which is
less intensely observed. Unique to these services are our pathways – we don’t stop
keeping track of the people we house after they leave. We have developed a range
of supported accommodation from 24-hour monitored homes to independent flats
to ensure there is a support throughout their journey. With our housing people
»CEO: Brenda Wright
»Established in 1991
»Based in Cheshire
»Services: Support and
»No. of employees: 50
»We provide specialist support
packages for complex
East Cheshire
Housing Consortium
Highlighting best practice
can move through our services with
as much or as little support they
need; ours is an all-encompassing,
individualised service.
We help people who would often
never be provided with a tenancy from
the local authority. As a result, we
house a significant number of people
from prison, mental health units and
other secure services. These individuals
are all now living independently,
working hard and contributing to
society. We ensure nobody slips
through the cracks, even providing a
support system for people living with
family. Our comprehensive pathway
deals with any situations that may
arise, and we see people stay with the
consortium from anywhere from a few
months to their entire life.
Give the best for each
Though we are by name a housing
consortium, this is only a small
element of what we do. We focus
on helping people, but a historical
organisational attitude was
prohibiting the forward thinking we
needed to progress. Jim Bissett, our
current chairman, has been with
the consortium for 15 years and
has been a catalyst for the change,
development and expansion of
the organisation. We agreed that
we wanted to give the best to our
residents from the start, offering
heart and passion in everything we
do. Our benchmark is that our service
users are housed in properties that
we and our families would be happy
to live in.
It is for this reason that we operate
our signature comprehensive
pathway. Things at ECHC are personal
– there’s no tick-box bureaucratic
mentality, and we allow our criteria to
be flexible, stretching and moulding
for each individual as necessary.
We keep things person-centred and
ensure that every housing situation
for our residents feels like their
We have seen monumental growth
since our inception, beginning with
a £20,000 turnover in year one to
£3 million now, with a provision
of nine 24-hour residential homes,
three residual blocks of individual
apartments and a comprehensive
floating support service. Many of our
staff have remained with us along
this journey; we have people working
here who were seconded from the
hospital over 20 years ago. With this
continuity of staff and long-term
funding, we have invested heavily in
training, accommodation and support
to ensure that we will continue to
provide the best possible services well
into thefuture.
The library
A place to learn and
develop life skills
We help
people who
would often
never be
provided with
a tenancy
from the local
New investments and
demonstrable results
With local authority cuts, we have seen
a diminished capacity for day services
in the sector. As a response to this,
we recently invested £120,000 into
the refurbishment of a community
centre and developed a new day
centre. This initiative has been recently
completed and is open to all of our
service users; further down the line,
we plan on opening access to the
wider community and broader mental
The centre ensures a safe, structured
environment for all involved, providing
opportunities for development and
growth. There are food hygiene,
mathematics and English courses
available, and we have partnered with
a local college to extend the courses
on offer. Using the centre to develop
skills, training and work experience,
we also offer leisure facilities such as
a pool table, library and computer
suite. We have been overwhelmed by
the success of our day centre, and it is
something we are incredibly proud of.
The journey towards
remaining “outstanding”
Though we have been historically
accredited by the CQC as an
“outstanding” institution, it has not
been easy to reach this point. We
see an almost daily challenge for
funding. Once a potential service
user is referred we rapidly assess
their suitability; however, once they
move for assessment funding to,
for instance, a local authority panel,
things often stall and it can take
months to process. This leads to
people staying in hospital for longer,
and rehabilitation stagnates. This also
gets in the way of what we can do,
as we put more effort into chasing
funding, and hospital costs are far
greater than our own.
As expected, we are inspected
regularly by all purchasers, including
the CQC, local authorities, CCGs
and other regulatory organisations.
One service user can be assessed
by many different commissioners,
who do not always have the same
outcomes. This makes the funding
process far too lengthy. Even within
the same organisations there can be
As a result of the funding challenges,
we want to move towards changing
our processes. After an incredibly
successful year of growth and
expansion, we plan to open our own
Enhanced Support Unit earmarked for
commissioning in October 2019, which
should coincide with a move to new
offices. These changes will hopefully
see the funding process becoming
more streamlined; the unit will serve
as a less costly alternative to prison or
a specialised hospital while funding
is appropriately arranged. It is just
another step on the way to continually
realising our central objective: housing
the unhousable.
Our central
housing the
We provide tailored
and specialist support


This article was sponsored by East Cheshire Housing Consortium. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from The Rt Hon Theresa May MP.

The Rt Hon Theresa May MP's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By The Rt Hon Theresa May MP

This foreword from the then Prime Minister appeared in the 2018/19 Parliamentary Review.

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review. For Her Majesty’s Government, our task in the year ahead is clear: to achieve the best Brexit deal for Britain and to carry on our work to build a more prosperous and united country – one that truly works for everyone. 

The right Brexit deal will not be sufficient on its own to secure a more prosperous future for Britain. We also need to ensure that our economy is ready for what tomorrow will bring. Our Modern Industrial Strategy is our plan to do that. It means Government stepping up to secure the foundations of our productivity: providing an education system that delivers the skills our economy needs, improving school standards and transforming technical education; delivering infrastructure for growth; ensuring people have the homes they need in the places they want to live. It is all about taking action for the long-term that will pay dividends in the future.

But it also goes beyond that. Government, the private sector and academia working together as strategic partners achieve far more than we could separately. That is why we have set an ambitious goal of lifting UK public and private research and development investment to 2.4 per cent of GDP by 2027. It is why we are developing four Grand Challenges, the big drivers of social and economic change in the world today: harnessing artificial intelligence and the data revolution; leading in changes to the future of mobility; meeting the challenges of our ageing society; and driving ahead the revolution in clean growth. By focusing our efforts on making the most of these areas of enormous potential, we can develop new exports, grow new industries and create more good jobs in every part of our country.

Years of hard work and sacrifice from the British people have got our deficit down by over three quarters. We are building on this success by taking a balanced approach to public spending. We are continuing to deal with our debts, so that our economy can remain strong and we can protect people’s jobs, and at the same time we are investing in vital public services, like our NHS. We have set out plans to increase NHS funding annually by an average by 3.4 percent in real terms: that is £394 million a week more. In return, the NHS will produce a ten-year plan, led by doctors and nurses, to eliminate waste and improve patient care.

I believe that Britain can look to the future with confidence. We are leaving the EU and setting a new course for prosperity as a global trading nation. We have a Modern Industrial Strategy that is strengthening the foundations of our economy and helping us to seize the opportunities of the future. We are investing in the public services we all rely on and helping them to grow and improve. Building on our country’s great strengths – our world-class universities and researchers, our excellent services sector, our cutting edge manufacturers, our vibrant creative industries, our dedicated public servants – we can look towards a new decade that is ripe with possibility. The government I lead is doing all it can to make that brighter future a reality for everyone in our country. 

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review 
The Rt Hon Theresa May MP
Prime Minister