Centrepoint, the UK’s leading charity committed to tackling youth homelessness, signalled its future intent with the appointment of British entrepreneur Javad Marandi and financier Jamie Reuben as co-chairs of its growth board in 2021.

At a time when many charities were struggling with reduced incomes as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, Centrepoint began an ambitious new phase of its work.

As co-chairs, the duo will expand the growth board to garner public and private sector support and ensure the delivery of Centrepoint’s flagship Independent Living Programme.

It’s hoped this exciting initiative will be truly transformative when it comes to tackling homelessness across the UK.

An innovative new approach

Centrepoint’s Independent Living Programme represents a step-change in housing and employment provision for young people at risk of homelessness. The charity is currently constructing 300 affordable housing units for young people in London and Manchester.

To be eligible, disadvantaged individuals between the ages of 16 and 25 must first secure employment through the Centrepoint Work Scheme, an established initiative that provides essential skills, training, and job-finding support.

Employers who sign up offer a stepping stone to employment for underprivileged young people, who are given assistance with the transition.

Once they are employed, these individuals are then able to apply for housing through the Independent Living Programme. It provides them with stable, long-term accommodation, with rent that is capped at a third of their salary. This is likely to be a substantial discount on the current market rent for new tenants in both London and Manchester.

With sufficient investment, land and employer support, the ultimate goal is to expand this initiative to provide 30,000 homes across the UK.

“The Independent Living and Centrepoint Works programme represent fresh thinking and provides a creative solution, which can go some way to improving the prospects of those that need it most while establishing a workable model that can be significantly expanded in the future”, said Marandi.

Reuben agreed, stating: “In a time of growing uncertainty and with unemployment on the rise, it is vital that young people have a safe place to call home and a secure job to sustain themselves financially. It is an honour to be part of a programme making this a reality and ensuring young people are given the opportunity to fulfil their potential.”

A wealth of experience

The appointment of Marandi and Reuben brings a wealth of strategic and commercial experience to the organisation.

Marandi came to the UK as a teenager when his family fled persecution following the Islamic Revolution in Iran, and is one of the country’s leading businessmen and philanthropists.

With extensive experience in business development, Marandi, who also owns Soho Farmhouse and Anya Hindmarch, will lead Centrepoint Works. This restructured jobs, skills and training will be delivered to more than 1,200 young people every year and will look to secure more than 200 jobs and apprenticeship opportunities.

Jamie Reuben is one of the UK’s leading financiers and his interests include co-ownership of Newcastle United Football Club.

Two such high-level appointments by the charity reflect the ambition of the programme.

Both men have a reputation for deal-making and delivery. They also possess a range of skills and connections that have now been put at the service of Centrepoint as they look to expand their services to young people.

This commercial experience, when allied with the charity’s reputation for building and managing tenancies, represents a firm foundation for future growth.

An investment opportunity

It’s hoped that over time the Independent Living Programme will become more commercially viable and attractive to investors while helping to provide young people with stability and opportunities.

It is already generating yields that are consistent with current commercial rates. As the scheme receives more support in the form of expertise, land, property, and income, the costs of construction become more affordable, and the yield grows.

Centrepoint anticipates the yield will eventually reach two to three times the current rates, which will make it highly appealing to investors, including pension and investment funds, from all backgrounds.

The appointment of Marandi and Reuben to such high-profile roles within the programme can serve to boost that investment case even further.