Big changes start locally

New £1 million project launched for rented homes in Sunderland

Back on the Map


  • New partnership between Back on the Map, Sunderland City Council and The Virgin Money Foundation
  • £1 million project will drive up the standard of rental homes in Hendon area
  • Empty and poor-quality properties will be transformed into good-quality accommodation

A community housing partnership has launched a new £1 million project to drive up standards of accommodation in Sunderland’s rental sector and bring more empty properties back into use as family homes.

Back on the Map is a local charity which has a long term strategy to buy empty and poorly managed properties in Hendon, hold them in local ownership, and then offer them as good quality homes where people can afford to stay and settle. Their objective is to provide a better place for communities to thrive.

A long term loan of £390k from the city council, combined with a £220k grant from The Virgin Money Foundation’s Ripple Fund and Back on the Map's own commitment of £390k, will enable the charity to buy 20 empty or run down properties which will be refurbished and returned to the rental market to provide much needed family homes.

Jen McKevitt, CEO at Back on the Map said:

“Hendon currently suffers from a shortage of high-quality private rental accommodation, with too many poorly-managed private rented and empty properties. This housing situation is a key factor in the erosion of community stability, causing distress for residents and contributing to anti-social behaviour and crime in the area. We want to build a better place and a stronger Community.”

“Thanks to this grant from The Virgin Money Foundation and forward-thinking from Sunderland City Council, we are now able to take this important leap forward in our growth plan, growing the availability of high-quality housing and bringing local homes under responsive local management.”

Sunderland City Council Portfolio Holder for Health, Housing and Adult Services, Councillor Graeme Miller said:

“We all welcome this grant from Virgin Money Foundation which will be put to good use, and show just what can be achieved when the public, private and voluntary sector all work together to improve housing. Working together with Back on the Map has helped create a new sense of community in this part of the city.”

Nancy Doyle, Executive Director of The Virgin Money Foundation added:

“Empty Homes across the country are a wasted resource and often a blight on communities. Bringing these properties back into use as homes will not only help the many people who are in need of housing across the country, but also begin to regenerate neighbourhoods. The Virgin Money Foundation, through its Ripple Fund, are delighted to be partnering with Sunderland City Council and Back on the Map to bring properties back into use in Hendon and to improve the standards of private rented accommodation in the area.”

Over the last 8 years, more than 70 properties have been acquired and refurbished in Hendon by Back on the Map and a further 25 improved through HCA and Council funding which has allowed the owners of empty homes to refurbish their properties and let them to local families.

Through this new £1 million project, the three partners are set to continue that community regeneration work and build a more stable and sustainable community.

The launch of the new project in Hendon coincides with National Empty Homes week beginning Monday 16 October 2017, an annual campaign by the charity Empty Homes to celebrate successes and reflect on what more needs to be done to bring empty properties back into use to meet housing needs.



Back on the Map

Jen McKevitt - Chief Executive T: 0191 5149060

Joanne Cooper - Community Services Manager T: 0191 5149062

Sunderland City Council

Kevin Douglas – Media Officer T: 0191 561 1139

The Virgin Money Foundation

Press Office - T: 0191 279 4676


About Virgin Money Foundation

  • The Virgin Money Foundation launched in August 2015 as an independent charitable foundation focused initially on community projects in the North-East of England, and growing to operate nationally over time.
  • It promotes the sustainable regeneration of economically and socially deprived communities in the UK. This includes providing investment in community housing and building projects, promoting opportunities for youth work and training, as well as investing in projects designed to relieve unemployment.
  • Virgin Money funds the running costs of The Virgin Money Foundation Ripple Fund and North East Fund. This helps to ensure that 100% of donations to the Foundation - including £8 million over 4 years contributed by Virgin Money, the Cabinet Office and the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport - go towards helping the Foundation to achieve its charitable objectives.

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