Creating opportunities for a brighter future through strong partnerships and shared values
The Revd Canon Hilary Barber has been involved with Halifax Opportunities Trust for over 15 years. As a new resident of Halifax, Hilary was first introduced to the Trust through a Common Purpose course that brought him to the Elsie Whiteley Innovation Centre. Now, Chair of the HOT board, Hilary has made strong connections through the Trust and, through his influence across the country, he has helped to raise awareness of our work that has led to mutually rewarding partnerships.
Hilary has been a HOT trustee since 2008 and became Chair in 2020. In this time, he has become a well-known figure across the charity, regularly getting involved with HOT events and commitments to support the Trust and raise its profile. In the 15 years Hilary has been involved with HOT he has observed many changes and has helped to drive the charity forward thanks to a shared passion for positive change.
A common purpose
Joining the board of trustees has been beneficial for Hilary, not only in his role at Halifax Minster, but in gaining understanding of the local community. Hilary shares many values with the Trust and is committed to creating opportunities so people can build a better life and stronger community. This common purpose has solidified his connection with HOT, where many opportunities have arisen through interlinked projects that support both charitable and governmental initiatives.
With community a shared passion between Hilary and HOT, something his connection with faith and government is strongly rooted in, there are many aspects of being Chair that fit naturally. Through this, HOT acted as a community voice for the Minster in activities around bringing organisations together and planning for Halifax’s future. Hilary reflects:
“I see a lot of value in working with HOT. There are many similarities in our ethics and having a shared goal means we can see the direction we want the charity to follow. I feel strongly about anti-poverty initiatives and will always support the Trust’s long-term commitment to the communities in Park ward and Calderdale.
“As Chair I believe I am an ambassador of the Trust, everyone who is associated with HOT is; it’s the connections we build when least expected that have a great impact.”
It’s not just the connection with HOT that Hilary sees synergy with, as a Trustee and Chair he has acquired many new approaches and skills that can be passed on. Through HOT’s membership with of Locality, an organisation that champions power of community, Hilary has joined many conferences that have proven valuable at the Minster, supporting impact measurement and helping implement new processes.
Throughout the past 15 years, Hilary has supported many initiatives that have led to the Trust’s progress. From enterprise projects and spaces, to new contracts and delivery streams, HOT has flexed in many ways to ensure it upholds its purpose of creating a vibrant, multicultural and self-sustaining community.
One of the greatest changes was in 2016, when Barbara Harbinson stepped down as CEO, after many years at HOT. It is through Barbara that Hilary got involved with the charity and her leaving was a significant event for many people, as she had become synonymous with the Trust and many projects that have continued to thrive, such as the Outback Community Kitchen and Garden.
With change comes new approaches and with Alison Haskins taking the role of CEO, the Trust entered a new era of delivery that has helped HOT continue to move forward and grow. Hilary reflects:
“Barbara did a fantastic job of setting out our direction and we achieved great things as a result. Since Alison joined in 2016, she has helped us to move forward. We’ve won a number of industry awards as a charity, green space and social enterprise, which raises our profile and drives our massage of place-based delivery, sustainability and community.”
Something Hilary notes as a strength of HOT, is its enterprising nature. As a social enterprise in its own right, HOT is able to think commercially and innovate in order to ensure new ideas are generated in support of raising funds and awareness for the charity. Of course, HOT also oversees the management of the Elsie Whiteley Innovation Centre and Hanson Lane Enterprise Centres, which run as social enterprises and generate revenue for the Trust.
Hilary was present when the Elsie Whiteley Innovation Centre launched, which HRH Princess Anne officially opened. At the opening, Aslam Mohammad (then Chair) and Barbara Harbinson (then CEO) guided HRH around the Centre to demonstrate its success as a local hub of innovation. Hilary remembers:
“The official opening of Elsie Whiteley Innovation Centre remains a real highlight of HOT, for me. With the largest tenant, AIDC UK, making it a European centre of excellence, it really helped to attract businesses in a modern and digital field. For the HOT board, this summed up our aspirations and cemented our plans for future income generation.
“It’s also where I first met Sir Stephen Timms, who was Chief Secretary to the Treasury at the time. Over time our relationship has grown through ‘Christians on the Left’, another [indirect] way HOT has influenced collaboration and partnerships.”
With socially enterprising practices and long-term contracts in place, Halifax Opportunities Trust has overcome many challenges to reach its aspirations. Hilary notes that winning the children’s centre contract in 2014 was a great achievement for the Trust. It secured the sustainable delivery of Sure Start children’s centres across Calderdale, which meant HOT was able to continue the great work it was doing to support children and families. Hilary recalls:
“The Children’s Centre contract was a big step for HOT. It meant that we could increase staffing levels and enhance delivery of an important service that continues to this day. Calderdale is one of the few remaining boroughs with such centres in place, so this is a great testament to the charity and the people who work here.”
Hilary also admires the hard work that goes into upholding Inclusive Integration projects and courses. Creating opportunities for people to build a better life, means understanding culture and aspirations, which is something Hilary is keen to directly support.
“I hope that the Minster and the Trust can collaborate to demonstrate the importance of inclusion, equity and diversity.”
One thing that remains constant at HOT is that nothing stands still. There are always new opportunities and projects in the pipeline and, through its recognised status as a community anchor in Calderdale, the Trust is constantly tailoring its approach to ensure it truly reflects the challenges and needs of the people we work with.
From a team of just 14 back in 2002, to over 180 in 2023, the Trust’s capacity has grown to accommodate these new opportunities and there’s no sign of this stopping. Hilary is excited about some of the Trust’s plans for the future, which include social housing, more enterprise projects and new spaces and places. Hilary comments:
“The Trust is evolving and, through new projects, we are able to progress and provide even more opportunities for local people. Ultimately, we’d love more streams of income generation to do this, so new ideas are always considered.”
As we celebrate our 21st Anniversary, we are looking back on the many opportunities we have created for individuals, families, businesses and the community. This means something different to everyone, and Hilary’s influence over the years has seen opportunities present in many different forms. To Hilary, ‘creating opportunities’ means:
“Enabling people to fulfil their human potential.”
Through the years and the impact the Trust has made in Calderdale, Hilary has supported the projects and initiatives that have helped us progress. From the successes of regeneration work at the Elsie Whiteley Innovation Centre, to winning the Children’s Centre contract, Hilary has helped us achieve and celebrate many milestones. Now we reach another milestone, our 21st birthday, we’re glad that Hilary is joining us in our celebrations.
“Everybody at the Trust is lovely. It’s great to be around people who have so much commitment and truly care about what they’re doing; I’m grateful to be a part of that.”
A brighter future
Our 21st birthday doesn’t only mean we’re looking back on our impact over the years, it gives us the opportunity to look forward and establish plans for the future. Hilary is optimistic about the future and supports our aspirations, anticipating many great things to ensure the 1,700 people we reach each day are able to build a better life and brighter future.
“I see HOT’s new focus on housing having a lot of potential and impact across Calderdale. It could support us as a social enterprise and ensure we’re able to grow and act on new ideas. Our innovative approach and strong position has potential to become an example of best practice throughout the region, as one of the largest charities in the area.”
Learn more about our 21st Birthday celebrations
As well as the contributions our connections are kindly providing to tell our story, we have lots of other things planned. Learn more on our official webpage, via the button below.