The Social Housing Innovation, Research and Enterprise network (SHIRE) is an interdisciplinary group of practitioners, lecturers, researchers and business development managers within Manchester Metropolitan University.
SHIRE is a research and knowledge exchange network, created to make a difference to people, place, policy and practice by contributing positively to social housing organisations and their tenants and the wider community. The aim of the network is to ‘bridge the gap’ between academic knowledge and practice of the social housing sector in the North West and Cheshire in order to develop services and improve the lives of people and neighbourhoods.
The work of social housing providers goes beyond just ‘bricks and mortar’ as these organisations are key players in local neighbourhoods in providing housing but also developing services and initiatives to tackle wide ranging issues such as poverty, worklessness, poor health and wellbeing, isolation and loneliness. As not for profit organisations, they have a strong sense of social purpose, much like universities, and are mindful of the need to be viable businesses in order to protect assets, support customers and continue to grow. Social Housing is a changing and dynamic sector that is filled with diverse growth opportunities for research, knowledge exchange and enterprise activity to develop innovative policy and practice and support communities.
The SHIRE network is organised around the following relevant and timely themes:
- Social Housing, Devo Manc and the Northern Powerhouse;
- Innovative practice and service delivery;
- Community impact and evaluation;
- Social, Economic and Environmental Sustainability;
- Health, wellbeing and social care;
- Inequality, poverty and employment.
Outcomes of SHIRE Network
The overall aim is to make a positive social, economic and environmental impact on communities by working with housing providers, their tenants and residents. The SHIRE network will deliver contract research, consultancy, Knowledge Transfer Partnerships, student placements and collaborative projects between Manchester Metropolitan University and social housing organisations
Since the launch of SHIRE early 2015, there have been a number of projects and bids developed, such as:
- Collaborative social value projects developed with City West Housing Trust, contributed to their Social Impact Report submitted to the Social Housing Regulator, the Homes and Communities Agency;
- Sandwich Placement (paid at living wage) for a Public Services student for 12 months at Southway Housing in South Manchester;
- Work undertaken with City West Housing Trust to develop an ‘Anti-Poverty strategy’ and create practical effective interventions on a neighbourhood level.
Dr Roz Fox, SHIRE network lead, is a Public Services Lecturer and Placement Coordinator in the Department of History, Politics & Philosophy. Roz has qualitative research expertise in social housing, health, regeneration, community engagement, user engagement and service delivery. She is also a Non-Executive Director at ForViva Group and City West Housing Trust in Salford. She is deputy chair of the ForViva Group Audit and Risk Committee and is part of the Community Impact Strategy Hub. Roz has developed an extensive network of social housing providers across the North West and Cheshire and has used this to create placement and knowledge transfer opportunities for first, second and sandwich year students.
Roz is assisted by Linda Reichenfeld, Principal Lecturer based in the Department for Interdisciplinary Studies, MMU Cheshire. Linda Reichenfeld is a Principal Lecturer in Geography and Environmental Studies at MMU Cheshire, Departmental Knowledge Transfer Coordinator and Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) Lead Academic. She has extensive experience of working with many Cheshire based organisations, including Wulvern and Weaver Vale Registered Social Landlords. One collaborative project successfully reduced void properties and rent losses through the development and implementation of the WINS tool (Wulvern Indicators for Neighbourhood Sustainability).