Two awards for SYHA staff in Queen’s Birthday honours list

We’re delighted to announce the exciting news that two members of staff at South Yorkshire Housing Association have been named in the Queen’s Birthday honours list.

Our Chief Executive, Tony Stacey, has been awarded an OBE for services to social housing – a career which began back in 1979

Head of Co-design and Improvement, Ruby Smith, has been awarded an MBE for services to her local community of South Anston, and is one of the youngest recipients of the award this year.

Tony Stacey OBE

Tony was appointed as Chief Executive of SYHA in 1995 and during his time leading the organisation it has grown to become one of the highest performing social landlords in the country.

Recognised as a leading figure on housing nationally, Tony has championed the rights of the most vulnerable people and fought to make sure that everyone has access to genuinely affordable housing.

Recently he has led national campaigns to fight against the compulsory Right to Buy, as well as the proposed Local Housing Allowance cap.

He has also been instrumental in bringing together local authorities, housing associations and other landlords locally to form the Sheffield City Region Housing Compact, a unique partnership which will focus the efforts of organisations in the Sheffield City Region to work together to end the housing crisis.

In his 22 years as Chief Executive of SYHA, Tony has overseen a huge expansion and diversification of SYHA business, including:

  • The growth of SYHA’s assets to be worth nearly a third of a billion pounds.
  • Expanding the organisation’s portfolio of homes to 6,000.
  • Support for 16,592 customers in SYHA’s LiveWell services – which include support for mental health, learning disabilities, homelessness, older people and substance misuse.
  • SYHA being named the 40th best not-for-profit organisation to work for in the Sunday Times Best 100 List 2017.

Tony Stacey has featured consistently in the 24 Housing PowerPlayers lists; in 2015 he finished second, higher than leading politicians, other housing leaders and even the Prime Minister.

Speaking about the award, Tony said: “I am delighted to receive this award. I saw Ken Loach’s Cathy Come Home when I was 10 and I decided there and then that I wanted to work in housing and do something to tackle homelessness.

“Good quality housing makes such a difference to people’s lives. SYHA has been at the forefront of ensuring excellent housing services really do sustain communities and help people to realise their full potential. SYHA is a great organisation and I have been very privileged to lead it.”

Ruby Smith MBE

As an active figure in her community, and regular volunteer with a range of local organisations, Ruby has worked tirelessly to make sure older people in Sheffield never feel isolated or lonely.

In 2013 she launched Crackers and Company, who provide a Christmas Day meal for anyone on their own at Christmas in the South Anston area. The group has grown every year and last year welcomed nearly 100 people who enjoyed a meal and drinks, met new people and all left with gifts.

In her role as Head of Co-design and Improvement at SYHA, Ruby has transformed the organisation’s approach to co-design and quality. Ruby’s work has enabled the organisation to win funding for new services like Age Better in Sheffield, a £6 million Big Lottery funded scheme that aims to tackle isolation and loneliness in Sheffield.

Her passion about the link between health, housing and social care, and that people who use these services should help design them, has led to successful services like Over2You, EatWell and Co:Create being formed in the past five years alone.

Ruby has travelled the world with UNICEF and co-ordinates the Sheffield branch of the organisation. In 2012 she became the youngest person ever to receive an honorary fellowship from UNICEF, and in 2013 was named UNICEF fundraiser of the year.

In her short career Ruby has already amassed an incredible list of achievements, including:

  • Former member of the British Youth Parliament
  • Carried the Olympic Torch in 2012 in recognition of her fundraising work
  • Part of the Age Better in Sheffield team who won the UK Housing Campaign of the Year award in 2015
  • Finalist in 24 Housing’s Young Leaders 2016

Speaking about the award, Ruby said: “To know that people from my community, organisations I work and volunteer for, have come together to nominate me for this is just so heart-warming. Lots of people have already said to me ‘you must be so proud’ and I am, but not of myself; all the things I do, I do with wonderful people around me.

“I’m proud of all of them and all the things we achieve together; all the team that work together at South Yorkshire Housing Association, all the volunteers who give their time to make Crackers and Company possible, and all the people who donate to UNICEF. I could go on!

“Lots of people have commented saying it’s great for me to get an MBE as a woman and as a young person. So, to young women, I would say we need you to lead, now, so that a young woman receiving an MBE isn’t surprising news. There’s no shortage of problems in the world, just find one you care about and do something about it today, don’t wait. Trust that if you start, and you start with heart, people will follow.”


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