Sandra Skeete is stepping down as chief executive of Octavia Housing, with Kevin Bolt appointed to succeed her, albeit as managing director.
Earlier this week, the organisation announced it was in early talks with Abri, with a view to entering into a long-term partnership with the larger organisation.
Skeete, who will step down in January 2024, has been Octavia’s chief executive since September 2019. The organisation says that under her leadership, the organisation has continued to deliver on its social purpose of “providing homes, support, and care for residents in central and west London”.
Since 2019, Octavia Housing says it has extended its reach to support communities through the COVID-19 pandemic, the cost of living crisis and developed more than 300 new affordable homes in the capital.
Skeete said: “It has been a privilege and pleasure leading Octavia over the last four years to continue to deliver on its social purpose. A partnership with Abri offers an excellent potential opportunity for Octavia to secure a stronger future for residents, customers, colleagues and partners.”
Earlier this year, Skeete informed the board of her intention to leave the organisation to pursue new opportunities, but she agreed to stay on to support the delivery of the potential partnership with Abri, and ensure that Octavia had “robust improvement plans” in place in response to its recent regulatory downgrade.
In September, it was downgraded by the Regulator of Social Housing from G1 to G3 for governance, and V2 to V3 for its viability.
During her remaining time in office, Octavia says that Skeete’s “primary focus” will be working on the potential partnership.
Bolt, as managing director, will oversee the day-to-day operations of the organisation and ensure continuity in leadership, Octavia explained, so that staff, residents, and the wider Octavia community “continues to benefit from strong leadership following Sandra’s departure”.
He brings with him 11 years’ of experience working in social housing, and was formerly chief executive of Bedford-based housing association BPHA for nine years.
Bolt said: “Octavia has a rich legacy of supporting the diverse neighbourhoods of central and west London and I’m looking forward to joining the organisation at a crucial moment in its history. Throughout the interview process, I met with passionate individuals who I look forward to working with to ensure Octavia continues to build on its legacy to help more people live independently.”
Stephen Jack, chair of Octavia’s board, said: “The board recognises Sandra’s professionalism, commitment and strong leadership during a challenging time for the organisation. I want to thank her for accepting the board’s request to stay for an extended period to lead the development of our partnership proposals, and coordinate our improvement plan.
“I am pleased to welcome Kevin to the Octavia family – the board was impressed by his experience and his commitment to our social purpose. These changes announced today are very significant for the organisation and the board remains optimistic about Octavia’s future and the opportunity to build on its 158-year legacy of serving London’s communities.”
Main image: Sandra Skeete, chief executive, Octavia Housing
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