Eastlight’s impact a year after merger

Staff at Marks Tey hub

A new housing association has provided a £21m boost to the north Essex economy, created more jobs and hundreds of new affordable homes.

Eastlight Community Homes today announced the impact it has made since forming a year ago, from the merger of Braintree-based Greenfields Community Housing and Colne Housing in Colchester.

Despite the challenges caused by the coronavirus pandemic in the last year, Eastlight has:

Become one of the largest employers in the Braintree district, with around 400 employees up more than 50 from last year.

Launched a bigger Home Solutions repairs service and is recruiting more skilled tradespeople.

Built 237 new homes for affordable rent or part-buy, part rent, known as shared ownership.

Opened a modern environmentally-friendly warehouse for its tradespeople at Marks Tey and is introducing electric-powered vehicles.

Spent £21.8m with firms in the county to provide the best service for its customers. This investment also helped support several businesses facing uncertain times due to lockdown.

Eastlight’s biggest challenge was being unable to carry out routine home repairs due to lockdown restrictions, and Eastlight Homes Solutions’ team is focusing on catching up as soon as possible. There has also been a backlog in answering customer queries due to the rise in demand post lockdown and alignment of services following the merger.

We quickly adapted our services to try and meet the needs of our customers. We are open and honest about what we have achieved and where we need to continue to work with residents and communities to accelerate improvements to the services we provide.

- Chief executive Emma Palmer

Eastlight, which has  around 12,000 homes in Braintree, Colchester, Tendring, Chelmsford, Maldon, Uttlesford and Suffolk, has given vital support to hundreds of residents during the pandemic. This has ranged from supporting victims of domestic abuse and people affected by social isolation and poor mental health to helping those out of work to claim benefits, tenants to avoid debt and communities to reduce anti-social behaviour.

Eastlight was formed in July 2020 with plans to build up to 3,800 homes in Essex and Suffolk over five years, invest £130 million in existing homes and support communities to thrive with £1.75 million for local improvements led by local people.