It has been a positive, and at times humbling, experience to witness how the people who make up Notting Hill Genesis have responded to and largely overcome the multiple challenges of the past financial year.
I, and the rest of the board, have been impressed by how everyone has pulled together not only to address the pandemic, but also to respond to the legitimate and long-standing societal concerns that were brought so sharply into focus by the murder of George Floyd, and to the challenges faced across the sector as we seek to make our buildings compliant with new regulations and keep our residents safe.
I am especially pleased that we have been able to lead from the top on diversity and inclusion through the recruitment of two new board members from Black and minority ethnic communities. Fred Angole, who joined us in August 2020, has considerable executive and board level experience within the social housing sector including with the social housing regulator. In December 2020 we welcomed Arike Oke, the managing director for Black Cultural Archives, the home of Black British history. Arike has worked in heritage for more than 15 years, from the seminal Connecting Histories project in Birmingham, to building the Wellcome Collection’s archive, and co-convening Hull’s first Black History Month.
Fred and Arike have been appointed to replace Bruce Mew and Linde Carr who will retire at the AGM. Bruce and Linde have made enormous contributions to NHG and predecessor organisations, including during the merger. They leave a great legacy.
We have also appointed several people from BAME backgrounds to various of our board committees. Each of these committees additionally now include a resident representative to ensure the voices of our most important customers are heard at leadership level.
Although it is not a situation in which any organisation would wish to find themselves, I was taken with the pragmatism and compassion displayed by the team responsible for moving several hundred residents out of our Paragon estate in west London following expert advice that this was the only way to ensure their safety. Throughout, they sought to put residents’ needs first and support them to move on with their lives following this most distressing of experiences at an already difficult time.
Our financial results for the year are positive, with a total surplus of £144.7 million, an improvement of £46.6 million on 2020. Strong finances are a pre-requisite of an organisation like Notting Hill Genesis, enabling us to invest in improvements to existing properties and in much-needed new homes for London and its immediate surroundings.
Our financial strength is in large part thanks to the effective leadership of our Chief Financial Officer, Paul Phillips, who recently announced plans to step down. Paul has led the finance team at Notting Hill Genesis since its creation in April 2018 and from 2004 as Finance Director for one of our predecessor organisations, Notting Hill Housing. On behalf of the board and the whole organisation, I thank Paul for his long service and dedication and wish him well for the future. We intend to announce Paul’s successor soon with the role attracting excellent candidates.
I am grateful for the support of the many people I meet as part of my work as Chair of Notting Hill Genesis, including investors, shareholders and resident representatives. But I want to end with particular thanks to the organisation’s employees. Their compassion, resilience and willingness to adapt has been truly impressive, especially in the face of a good deal of uncertainty and personal difficulties for many, due to illness and sometimes death among family and friends, going on to furlough or juggling work with home-schooling. My heartfelt thanks to you all.