Last night we were delighted and proud to take away one of the the top awards at the Sunderland Portfolio Business Awards, being crowned Employer of the Year, following a hugely important and successful 12 months for Gentoo colleagues and tenants.
Following the appointment of our new Chief Executive Officer, Nigel Wilson, in January, we have made significant progress throughout 2019 in a number of key areas and crucially refocused on what we do best: providing good quality affordable housing for the people of Sunderland.
After a difficult recent period, we have turned a corner and achieved some important things this year, for both our employees and our tenants.
In April we were excited to announce a new £417m investment plan for the next five years, spending £117 million to create 900 new hugely important homes to rent in Sunderland and investing £300 million in our existing properties for our existing tenants.
The creation of our colleague-led Employee Forum has also been a huge milestone for us, with an elected group of 16 colleagues now working together to ensure the voice of our employees is heard and playing an important role in influencing the running of and the future direction of the business.
In the summer, we celebrated being awarded a Gold accreditation from Investors in People following an immense amount of work colleagues had put in to restoring trust across the organisation.
This was followed closely by us gaining Living Wage Employer status by the Living Wage Foundation – which as a community based organisation with strong social purpose, is an achievement which is massively important to us. Our colleague wages are now reflective of a national higher rate of pay that reflects the basic cost of living in the UK.
Rewarding our colleagues in the right way has been a key priority for us and we were delighted to recruit 16 new apprentices in September and start our workforce of the future on apprenticeship wages £5,200 above the national standard. Investing in the workforce of the future has always been important to us, creating 276 apprentice opportunities for local people since 2001, and we look forward to developing our new recruits in the years ahead. Amy Kelsey, Payroll Apprentice, won Highly Commended in the Apprentice of the Year category of these awards!
Finishing the year on high, we were delighted with the Regulator of Social Housing’s recent announcement to re-grade Gentoo to a compliant G2 governance rating – a position we have been working on getting back to since 2017 and a reflection of the organisation’s shift in corporate governance processes and controls.
Gentoo’s Chief Executive Officer, Nigel Wilson, said:
“I am absolutely delighted we have been crowned Employer of the Year in Sunderland. This award is a testament to colleagues who have worked so hard in getting this organisation back on track following a difficult few years and back to doing what it does best. Our focus is back to where it should be, and that’s on Sunderland, with our 29,000 homes, 60,000 tenants and 1200 colleagues in living and working in the city. Colleagues are so proud of the role Gentoo plays in Sunderland and are massively excited to part of the city’s ongoing transformation. We look forward to continuing to make such a difference to the lives of our tenants and local residents in years to come.”