Community support

Funding level: £1,001 to £5,000



RUSS has spent the last seven years developing an innovative way of delivering truly affordable and sustainable homes for people on low incomes.

The ‘model’ it has devised involves convincing councils and other landowners to donate land into a Community Land Trust; it also advocates preparing the designs for the homes with the active input of all the eventual occupants. The residents also construct parts of the homes themselves to help keep costs down.

Because the community has been involved in the design and construction this results in homes that are tailor made to ‘fit’ the end users. The homes are also built to higher quality and space standards, and have very low energy needs.

Our first project (33 affordable homes in Ladywell, Lewisham) is due to start on site late in 2018, and should be completed in 2020. More than £1m has been raised by RUSS in grants and loans to get this project fully designed and ready to build.

RUSS now wants to train other communities so they too can deliver their own affordable self-built homes. To do this it has set up a School for Community-Led Housing and it has run four informal pilot workshops. Feedback from these has been excellent.

Across the UK there are now more than 1,000 community organisations trying to find out how they can deliver similar projects. But currently there is very little guidance or advice available to them.

RUSS therefore wants to run a series of formal workshops and courses in the second half of 2018. These will take place in a new temporary community ‘hub’ that will be constructed on our site in Lewisham in early 2018. We have funded this hub via a crowd-funding initiative. But we still need around £5,000 to fit it out so that it can be used as a training facility.

We are seeking £5,000 from the Aviva Community Fund to enable us to fit out the hub.


• Equipping the new hub building with tables and chairs for up to 40 attendees at each workshop
• Purchasing a range of power tools and other equipment so we can provide practical advice and hands-on experience
• Installing suitable lighting and power sockets
• Laptop computer, projector and screen, plus blinds for all the windows and a lectern so our volunteer trainers can deliver top quality presentations
• Marketing the courses to community groups across the UK
• Fitting out a modest kitchen space so we can provide refreshments for attendees


We plan to run at least six courses in the hub during 2018, and each of these is expected to attract 30-40 attendees. Collectively this means we could train up around 200 other community organisations.

If each of these community groups is then able to progress their own community-led housing project, in time this could lead to 2,000 to 5,000 additional affordable homes being built across the UK.

Aviva's support in 2018 would also enable RUSS to run a similar programme of courses in future years too – so the impact could be even greater.

RUSS (Rural Urban Synthesis Society)

Moment of Pride

* The huge levels of community engagement - RUSS has more than 700 members/volunteers, who have supported it so that it is now ready to start building.

*The willingness of all those involved to pass on the knowledge they have gained so other communities can also benefit

Location: Church Grove, London, London Borough of Lewisham, United Kingdom