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Respond: Growing from strength to strength

Respond, the approved housing body (AHB) and service provider, has a dual strategy of “building homes, improving lives”. As one of Ireland’s largest approved housing bodies, Respond is unique in providing a wide range of services alongside its housing construction and housing management. These include Daycare for Older People Services, Early Childhood Care and Education Services, Family Homeless Services, Family Support, and Refugee Resettlement Services.

Respond CEO Declan Dunne says the organisation is moving into a new, ambitious period of growth.

“During a global pandemic in 2020, we delivered 572 homes, adding to the national housing stock, supporting the work of iCare in a further 109 homes. We have strengthened our leadership, attracting new talent, bringing new skills and expertise to the organisation. Our board has been strengthened with the addition of new, highly qualified and experienced Board members. We are very excited by our partnerships with the Centre for Effective Studies and the Global Brain Health Institute. The point of all of this is to ensure thriving communities in which Respond’s tenants and service users are heard and supported.”

New collaborations

Designing a new tenancy management service for Respond with Centre for Effective Studies (CES)

With the significant increase in Respond’s housing, the needs of Respond’s tenants and developments have changed over time. Respond is keen to draw on the collective knowledge and experience of staff and tenants to develop their practise so that their communities are empowered to reach their full potential. To that end, they are now collaborating with the Centre for Effective Studies (CES) to develop a logic model for a new tenancy management service, ensuring tenants are at the heart of everything the organisation do.

Global Brain Health Institute (GBHI)

Respond announced a new partnership with the Global Brain Health Institute (GBHI). The organisations partner on two work streams: brain health training for Respond’s social care staff and a series of thematic seminars examining the intersection between brain health and housing. In addition, Respond have contracted two GBHI Fellows to work with them on the design of 101 new social housing apartments in Dublin and the redesign of La Verna Daycare for Older People Centre.

New Director

Olivia McCann

Olivia McCann is a highly committed and experienced solicitor with 29 years of experience dealing with complex commercial matters both in Ireland and the UK. She specialises in commercial property and business law. Olivia qualified with McCann FitzGerald Solicitors in 1992 and in the UK in 1998, subsequently working with London Law Firm, Clifford Chance and Canary Wharf Group plc as Legal Counsel specialising in large commercial property transactions. She now works in Waterford with McCann Morrissey Clarke.

“I am delighted to join the board of Respond. This is a critical time as we emerge from Covid-19. I am really impressed by Respond’s ability to keep adding to national housing stock throughout the pandemic and the agility of the staff who have continued to provide and adapt services for people who need them.”

New staff

Neil Bolton
Head of Housing

Neil has over 20 years’ strategic and operational experience in social housing, gained in both the UK and Ireland. He has worked at Executive level in both jurisdictions. In Ireland, Neil was an operations director and property director with Clúid Housing; in the UK, he was a customer services (property) director for a SCHT, a large Bath-based housing association. He also worked in a senior housing role for Bristol City Council. Between 2015 and 2017, he served as a non-executive director for the Irish Council for Social Housing (ICSH). He has also worked as an independent consultant primarily working with social housing organisations. Neil holds a PG Diploma in housing studies, a PG Diploma in business and executive coaching and is a chartered member of the Chartered Institute of Housing.

“Respond is committed to making sure that it can offer more high-quality homes to those that need them. Ensuring that we continue to improve services for existing tenants whilst we take on new homes will be more important than ever.”

Ciaran Andrews
Deputy Head of Housing (Asset Management)

The Deputy Head of Housing (Asset Management) is a new position in the Housing Team at Respond. Ciaran is a chartered building surveyor, assigned certifier, chartered architectural technologist and a RICS accredited building conservation surveyor. He has a keen interest in asset management within social housing. As a private sector building surveyor and head of asset management in Choice Housing Ireland, he has successfully brought a commercial mind-set to asset management whilst retaining his focus on the social purpose of the sector.

“I look forward to working with Respond to ensure the ambitious plans for growth over the next few years are delivered. It is my view that a quality asset management function within Respond will be an important contributory factor for the growth of the organisation.”

Felix McKenna
Deputy Head of Development

The Deputy Head of Development is a new position in the Development Team at Respond. Felix has over 30 years of experience in the real estate business, including residential property development and asset management. A chartered surveyor and barrister by profession, he is a founding executive and Partner at Urbeo Residential, a leading institutional residential investment platform. Before joining Urbeo, he was a senior asset manager at the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA), where he led the team that established and managed the NAMA social housing platform, NARPS. He also had responsibility for several Dublin Docklands mixed-use development projects. Prior to NAMA, he was director of property at Eir and previously head of property at one of Ireland’s largest property management service providers, Irish Estates. Felix is a former President of the Society of Chartered Surveyors in Ireland.

“Respond is a leading provider in the sector with a great team and a very ambitious housing delivery programme. I’m really looking forward to being part of that team and making a significant contribution to Respond’s work.”

For more information:

T: +353 (0)1 808 7700
E: info@respond.ie
W: www.respond.ie