Young Foundation meets Maria to talk #ReimaginingRent

Kineara’s director Maria Morgan recently sat down to talk to the Young Foundation about Reimagining Rent, the organisation’s new and unique programme designed to support the development of new ideas and solutions to the challenges facing tenants in the private rented sector.

The programme has been an opportunity to rethink how Kineara’s Rent Support Programme could work with and for tenants in private rented homes, many of whom are vulnerable and where evictions, insecurity and rising costs are impacting the wellbeing of so many.

Tell me a bit about Kineara, what do you do and what makes you unique?

Well, the name Kineara is a combination of two words that encompasses where we come from and the ethos we work within: Kin, denoting family and putting family first, and Eara, a Gaelic term meaning from the East, which refers to our beginnings in the east of London.

Kineara logo

What we do is intensive but purposeful. We work with families and individuals, providing holistic support and helping to mobilise services around them. We aim to establish meaningful connections between them and the services they need, whether they be related to housing, education or employment so that once Kineara has left we can ensure that the change is sustainable.

Since setting up in 2012, we’ve supported nearly one hundred households to stay in their homes and avoid eviction with our Rent Support Programme.

And what were you doing before you started Kineara? What inspired you to set it up?

I’m a social worker by trade. I left social work to work on a Family Intervention Project programme, 12-14 month intensive whole intervention programme, with Tower Hamlets Council. I was attracted to the programme because it reminded me of what social work is supposed to be about; being hands-on and out there and facilitating real change in behaviour.

It’s that project which inspired Kineara. It came from a chat with my manager at the time, Nikki Bradley and Andrea Baker (Poplar Harca), about creating a shorter intervention looking specifically at rent arrears, I went away from that conversation and created the RSP (Rent Support Programme).

We trialled the programme in 2011 and it seemed to work. Most people had paid back some if not all of their rent arrears. Due to the success of RSP, we decided to roll it out into a social enterprise, adapting the project to create a shorter term, 10-week form of family intervention to try to avoid housing tenants getting into rent arrears.

Although at the time I didn’t have any experience in business, in 2012 I become the Director of Kineara and it became its own entity in 2012 and was made into a viable social enterprise. The Bromley by Bow Centre’s Beyond Business Programme, supported us to develop the idea, write a business plan and pitch the idea to investors. Of the hundreds that apply to the programme every year, Kineara was shortlisted and given £10,000 to get the project off the ground.

What have been some of the biggest challenges for you personally, and for the organisation, so far?

I really value and appreciate grant funding. It is important that social enterprises and charities have access to financial support to work with society most complex challenges. Organisations like Kineara, that help support and empower people, who in turn help strengthen their own communities is how you sustain growth in every capacity.

However, I didn’t want Kineara to be solely dependent on grants, and developing a social enterprise that isn’t, can be challenging. But if you want something to last you need to think of ways to become more self-reliant. This is an on-going journey for Kineara.

So is your ambition to scale Kineara?

We’re still working in Tower Hamlets and in Hackney with our education programme. But we’re now also working with Southern Housing Group who have houses all over London. We’re branching out year by year.

We ultimately want the Rent Support Programme to run across the country. We want it to be in minds of housing associations and private landlords that evictions are costly and that this intervention can be both cost-saving as well as helping to tackle the homelessness crisis.



You can read the blog in full on the Young Foundation’s website.