The Housing Finance Corporation’s (THFC) chair of the board, George Blunden, has been awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours list.
The award is in recognition of George’s work with housing association Stonewater, which he chaired for nine years, and in setting up the Longleigh Foundation, the HA’s charitable foundation dedicated to supporting the individuals and communities served by the social housing sector.
George was instrumental in the creation of Stonewater, from the merger of two smaller HAs (Raglan and Jephson), in 2015. Stonewater now owns and manages 33,600 homes in England for over 75,000 customers, including affordable properties for general rent, shared ownership and sale, alongside specialist accommodation such as retirement and supported living schemes for older and vulnerable people, domestic abuse refuges, a dedicated LGBTQ+ Safe Space, and young people’s foyers.
During his time as chair, George also established the Longleigh Foundation as an independent charitable foundation, designed to make a significant difference to local communities and go beyond what Stonewater could achieve as a landlord alone. In the last year alone, Longleigh has provided funding worth over £1.3 million, to individuals and communities served by the social housing sector.
George’s tenure to date at THFC has seen the recent launch of the £7bn, non-profit mutual lender’s inaugural Social Bond Framework. George joined shortly after the launch of bLEND, and has seen the new funding company grow rapidly to pass £1bn of issuance this year.
George said: “There are so many people, quietly working selflessly in the interests of others in our communities, it was an unexpected call. My work with Stonewater was driven by the belief that homes are about so much more than bricks and mortar – it’s about building cohesive communities and developing services which allow people to thrive, including creating places which meet the needs of the marginalised (such as refuges and foyers), where futures are transformed. The Honours list is testament to the many people making a difference in all walks of life and I feel privileged to be named among them.”
Piers Williamson, chief executive of THFC, said: “We are all extremely proud of George’s honour at THFC. His BEM recognises a track record of service which covers much of his career, first at Southern Housing, Stonewater, Charity Bank and now at THFC. It is hugely deserved!”
Nicholas Harris, Stonewater chief executive, said: “I had the pleasure and privilege of working with George for nine years before he stepped down as Board Chair in 2019, and saw first-hand how his vision and commitment touched so many people’s lives, in so many positive ways.
“George is driven by a fundamental belief that having a safe, comfortable home is central to our ability to thrive and flourish. George’s recognition and empathy with those who are disadvantaged – whether financially or socially – lay at the heart of his leadership and he displays a rare combination of acumen and integrity, never losing sight of social purpose.”
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