Thirteen works with Cultures to use empty homes to foster social cohesion

A housing provider in Stockton is working with a local charity to turn empty properties back into homes for refugees who have been given leave to remain in the UK.

Cultures CIC, based in Stockton-on-Tees, works with individuals and groups from BME, immigrant and refugee communities to improve their social, economic and cultural inclusion, and in so doing build social cohesion.

Now housing provider Thirteen has leased the organisation three empty properties in Stockton so that it can work with prospective tenants to refurbish them ready for occupation.

Cultures will receive rental income from the properties to support its work and formerly empty properties will be brought back to life, which will contribute to the regeneration of the local community, Thirteen explained.

“This project is still in its early stages, but it is going to be really important to people who are granted leave to stay in the country and lose their asylum seeker accommodation, which makes it difficult to access training or employment,” said Sade Sangowawa, founder of Cultures.

“Thirteen has leased the properties to us and, with hard work and some investment, we will undertake refurbishment work and offer decent homes to individuals or families trying to build a decent life in our town.

“I hope that as we go forward more properties become available to enable us to help even more people.”

Chris Smith, Thirteen’s executive director of service delivery and development, said: “We’re delighted to be working with Cultures to enable these empty properties to be put to good use.

“It’s important to us that the communities we work in benefit from what we do. This project will contribute to the sustainability of the area and we are happy to support Cultures and the vital work it carries out in communities that risk being marginalised.”



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