Lotus targets £250m private sector investment with major new appointment

23rd Jul

One of the fastest instigators of change in helping to eradicate homelessness has made a significant new appointment to support plans to reach 2,000 bed spaces by the end of the year.

Wolverhampton-based Lotus Sanctuary, which provides homes and wraparound support to people who are homeless or in danger of becoming so, has welcomed investment specialist Chris Roberts to its senior management team and immediately given him the task of attracting new private investors and their portfolio of properties.

The new acquisitions and investment manager will be responsible for building relationships with multinational property funds, buy-to-let investors and social investment firms to leverage in excess of £250 million of funding to lease a mixture of apartment blocks and smaller buildings across the East and West Midlands, London, the North West, the North East, the South West and Yorkshire and Humber.

Chris, previously involved in property management and sales in Dubai, the Northern Powerhouse cities and for Rendall & Rittner, will bring with him a unique insight into management strategies and building design, not to mention more than 15 years’ experience of knowing what makes investors tick.

“We have very ambitious expansion targets that we want to hit as soon as possible, and private investors and property funds will play a key role in making this happen,” he said.

“Every bed space that we secure is another vulnerable person off the streets, out of a domestic violence situation, or someone given the opportunity to get the support they need to overcome the issues they may suffer from.

“Lotus has gone from a start-up in 2018 to an organisation with 1,000 bed spaces. This is just the start, we want to get to 5,000 bed spaces by the end of 2022, and 10,000 by the end of 2023 – the targets are big and so are the challenges we face.

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“Educating investors will be key to overcoming some of these, as our sector is still relatively new to them. In essence, we are the safest investment they can make with 20-year leases on their properties giving them a guaranteed income – we even look after day-to-day management and ensure buildings are being well looked after and maintained.

“Better still, you also get the feelgood factor of positively contributing to something that delivers real social benefit and this will definitely appeal to a new wave of investors that operate a strong environmental, social and governance strategy.”

Lotus Sanctuary typically provides properties for two years and, during that time, will work with the resident to understand their issues before creating a bespoke pathway to independence, including mental health and specialist support, access to training and a host of volunteering/employment opportunities.

Over the past two years, the CIC has grown from 24 units in the West Midlands to more than 1,000 bed spaces in seven out of the nine English regions.

This is just the start, with Chris being joined in the senior management team with four key hires, including Maria Santirso (assistant chief executive), Ben Podmore (head of asset management), David Barnett (IT manager) and Susil Bains (finance manager).

Gurpaal Singh Judge, chief executive of Lotus Sanctuary, said: “These latest appointments give us a really strong foundation and a much wider base of expertise.

“We have a real opportunity to deliver a new solution to the homeless situation in England and local authorities are increasingly looking to engage with us as they are seeing the benefit of our model, which gives the individual a home, tailored support and employment/training opportunities – all geared towards helping them live independently again.”

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