The housing association, based in Newcastle-under-Lyme, is honoured to receive a Queen’s Award for Enterprise in the Promoting Opportunity category, for its work to improve the social mobility of thousands of its customers.
The group is innovative in its approach to addressing social disadvantage, delivering much more than just housing. Aspire’s group of companies trains, educates and provides opportunities for people to change their futures.
Aspire Housing Chief Executive, Sinèad Butters, said: “We are passionate about making a difference in our region, in our neighbourhoods, and to people’s lives. Everyone should have the opportunity to fulfil their potential irrespective of their background.
“We are clear about our role, we believe providing a home is a start of a process to support the social mobility of our customers.
“In 2008 we took the bold step of acquiring a training business, PM Training, to further our social mission.”
The acquisition of PM Training enabled Aspire to tackle generations of worklessness and benefit dependency by providing courses, work experience and job opportunities for people.
Aspire Housing launched a programme called Aspire 2 Work in 2010. As one of the first housing associations to offer this service, it resulted in people coming off benefits, gaining employment and increasing in confidence. Today, this service supports around 300 customers a year.
Sinèad added: “It is an honour to be among the first recipients in the promoting opportunity category. It really is an enormous achievement for Aspire Housing.”
PM Training operates an open door policy where all are welcome regardless of educational attainment and background. The majority of learners are 16-18 years old with low levels of education. Many have faced barriers to success such as family breakdown, low aspiration and self-confidence.
Despite this, around 70 per cent progress positively, the majority into apprenticeships. This scheme was cited by BIS and OFSTED as a model of best practice.