Canopy Housing

Community • Leeds

Canopy Housing are an award-winning, charitable enterprise who work with local community volunteers to retrofit empty homes, providing housing, skills and training opportunities for local homeless people.

Our story

Canopy Housing are an award-winning, charitable enterprise who work with local community volunteers to retrofit empty homes. One of the volunteers on each property is usually homeless and gets to move into the property on completion. We call them our ‘self-helpers’.

Canopy were established twenty-five years ago, and we now own or lease long-term more than eighty social housing properties. We acquire and retrofit 4-6 empty homes each year and are also working, alongside 150 volunteers, on the retrofit of twelve properties we already own that were not refurbished to the high standards we set today. We’ve obtained a £200K grant for this project from the Energy Redress scheme, and will be aiming to complete the refurbishment of these twelve properties within two years.

An important part of what we do is engaging the public in community retrofit. Our volunteers come from all walks of life. Some simply want to learn DIY skills; others want careers in construction; and many just want to help homeless people, get involved in a local community project, or come along because it is beneficial for their mental health. We are particularly proud of the high numbers of women and people from ethnic minorities we engage in construction activities.

Our advice

We insulate internally for practical reasons: We prefer not to work at height with inexperienced volunteers and more of them are likely to turn up in the winter months if they are working indoors. It also gives us better quality control and oversight of our site team.

Using bio-based materials to carry out retrofits is healthier for the occupants and better for the buildings we work with, which are predominantly Victorian and Edwardian brick-built terraces. We use wood fibre and lime plaster rather than PIR (foam board) insulation and are hoping to start using hemp-based insulation over the next year or so.

Our volunteers gain new skills and training through helping out, which helps to increase commitment and increases the social impact of the project.

Our metrics

We will measure carbon savings from our homes, and we will measure the number of people that learn retrofit skills with Canopy.

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Response to climate crisis

Mitigation & Adaptation




Community, 10 to 49 people

Shared by

Rosie Scurfield

Updated Feb, 2024

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