John Denny has taken over as chief executive of Cosmopolitan Housing Group after its merger with Chester & District Housing Trust.
Denny, previously chief executive of Chester & District, addressed 440 colleagues from across Merseyside and Cheshire at a special gathering held in the Floral Pavilion, New Brighton. Denny's predecessor, Geoff Redhead, retired from Cosmopolitan Housing on 1 December.
Denny set out a strategy built around social inclusion and cited examples such as the establishment of a youth theatre in Blacon that has boosted young people's self-confidence whilst reducing anti-social behaviour.
He also announced plans for a bursary for a young person from the group's communities to study in the sixth form at Eton.
Denny said: "Nothing should be beyond the grasp of anyone in our communities. Why shouldn't genuinely bright kids from our communities have a place at Eton? Housing is not just about building homes; it's about making a difference. No matter how bad the welfare reforms are we are going to respond to them. Our vision involves everyone and dictates the depth, breadth and height of our aspiration. We are going to change and improve peoples' lives."
Cosmopolitan Housing Group now owns nearly 12,500 homes across Cheshire, Merseyside and the North West, a combined portfolio valued at £1.3bn.
Denny added: "Of course, building and managing homes well is important but we should be doing that anyway and always seeking to do it better. But I don't want to just look back on a career of good KPIs [key performance indicators] when I retire. I want to have helped to change lives. There are kids growing up in our homes and communities that are almost expected by some sections of society to fail, because of where they were born. I want to challenge that and make a real difference to their aspirations and their chances of success."
Colleagues were also given a flavour of the different organisations within the group from Andy Williams, managing director of Chester & District Housing Trust, Alec Gaston, managing director of Cosmopolitan Housing Association, Sam McMillan, managing director of Cosmopolitan Student Homes and Dave Griffiths, development director of Cosmopolitan Housing Group.