Canopy renovates empty and derelict houses that have been standing empty for years, and transforms them into homes through the hard work and commitment of their volunteers and tenants.
Canopy provides decent affordable accommodation for people that are homeless or in housing need
Our volunteers are an enthusiastic, interesting and diverse group of people from the local community and local schools and they do the practical work to renovate the houses, including light building work, plastering, painting, decorating, carpeting and tiling.
Empty and derelict houses blight an area and can become sites for vandalism and rubbish dumping. The community focus and small size of the project enables Canopy to renovate the properties, maintain lengthy tenancies and to respond to anti social behaviour and maintenance problems quickly. All this contributes to quality of the local environment for residents.
Canopy provides a ‘self-help’ housing opportunity for people that are homeless, which means they have the opportunity to participate in the renovation and decorating of their new home alongside the volunteers and can choose how they would like their house to look prior to moving in.
Canopy brings together many individuals from different communities in the local area, including people from different age groups and with differing abilities. Canopy facilitates an opportunity for people from different backgrounds to interact and learn from each other’s experiences and skills. There is a real need for projects like Canopy that can pull different strands of the community together and overcome ignorance and prejudice.
Canopy has developed partnerships with local housing providers and the local authority and has negotiated lease arrangements on each of the properties, allowing us to work together to overcome the problems caused by empty and derelict housing.
Our current aims
- To work with homeless people in the renovation of disused properties to create homes that are secure, affordable and decent
- To ensure that those working on their future home participate fully in all aspects of the project’s work and gain renewed confidence in their abilities and personal satisfaction in their achievements
- To bring together local communities to contribute towards the regeneration of inner city areas and foster a sense of community cohesion
- To support previously homeless persons to integrate into their new communities, in maintaining their tenancies, and in their efforts to contribute to the social and economic life of the region
- To involve and support disadvantaged local people, particularly the young, in the work of Canopy in order to further their abilities and help them access training and employment
- To share the experience, successes and failures, of our project with relevant organisations and groups so that they might learn from our experiences and the project’s model
A history of Canopy
- 1996 - Two local residents get together to address the problems of the large numbers of derelict and empty properties in the Burley Lodge area of Leeds. They want to get local people involved, particularly those who are young and disadvantaged, in the work and create self help opportunities for homeless people to work to create decent homes for themselves
- 1997 - Planning takes shape and Canopy works with Leeds City Council and Leeds Federated Housing Association to access empty properties. Fundraising work begins to bear fruit and renovation work starts on the project base and resource centre at 66 Burley Lodge Road. Canopy starts work on its first house in October
- 1998 - Canopy takes legal form and is officially registered as “an Industrial and Provident Society for the benefit of the community”. Volunteer involvement continues to grow and Canopy volunteers set up Hyde Park Source, working to renovate bin yards in Burley Lodge area
- 1999 - Work is completed on the project base with kitchen, workshop, office and meeting facilities. Canopy Apprenticeship Project scheme implemented
- 2000 - Development work starts for replicating Canopy’s work into the Beeston Hill area of South Leeds
- 2001 - The project in South Leeds gets started, called Beecan (Beeston Canopy) it starts work on the project resource centre at 114 Lady Pit Lane. The window box scheme is implemented through the Burley Lodge area
- 2002 - Canopy expands to commence a bin yard project in East End Park, over the next two years the project renovates 42 bin yards to create communal areas for residents. In Hyde Park we complete our last house, our 20th, in the area and within months the first house in Beeston is started
- 2004 - Canopy begins to formerly develop its work with the refugee and asylum community, providing housing and volunteer opportunities, amongst its existing diverse beneficiaries. We share office space with refugee community organisations.
- 2006 - Canopy says no thanks to the Supporting People program, restructures and refocuses on the housing renovations and volunteer program in Beeston. We also start to take on some properties in Holbeck.
- 2007 - The project has now worked with over 400 volunteers and completed a total of 36 property renovations. Our volunteer program is awarded the Investing in Volunteers standard.
- 2008 - Canopy begins work in Harehills with the support of many local volunteers and organisations. ENEHL supports Canopy with the provision of empty homes, the first of which is turned into a workshop and office with facilities for volunteers, tenants and local residents.
- 2009 - Canopy continued renovations in Harehills and celebrated a 5 year Big Lottery grant to fund the Harehills project. 100 volunteers contributed an astonishing 1227 days in total.