Our history

In 1966 the BBC first aired Ken Loach’s ground-breaking film Cathy Come Home. This harrowing portrayal of a young family’s spiral into homelessness shocked the nation and led to the development of many charities and housing associations across the country – including us!

Shelter was one of the first charities born out of Cathy Come Home, and it was the Sheffield-based Shelter Group who initiated the development of a housing association to support people in our city. Inspired by the need for change highlighted by Cathy, John Belcher became the founding CEO of Sheffield Family Housing Association in 1972 (and our first office began in his kitchen!). Under John’s direction the association began supporting young families in Sheffield who, like Cathy’s, were experiencing homelessness.

As we have grown and innovated throughout the last 50 years, our direct line of sight to Cathy Come Home hasn’t faltered – our purpose has always been about providing homes, and support, for people who need them. We are incredibly proud of the journey that has led us to South Yorkshire Housing Association as we know it today – over 600 people working to provide nearly 6,000 quality homes, and support to over 10,000 individuals.

“I’m using all these positive people and all their powers and combining them – they are my tools to move forward.”

South Yorkshire Housing Association customer

Here are some of our highlights:

  • Buying our first 50 homes – the very first being in Walkley, Sheffield!
  • What John Belcher described as the ‘golden years’ between 1975 and 1978, where 100 new homes were acquired each year
  • Expanding our work to Rotherham in 1979, which saw us become South Yorkshire Housing Association
  • Appointing Tony Stacey to the role of CEO in 1995
  • Merging with Network Homes in 1997, which kick-started our work in providing supported housing, and led to the development of LiveWell as we know it today
  • Building and acquiring over 4,000 homes, and testing new ways of developing to promote quality and sustainability
  • Championing social housing and being prominent members of SHOUT, Placeshapers and Homes for Cathy
  • Developing SYHA Enterprises
  • Moving to Rockingham Street
  • Larry Gold joining us as CEO in 2023