innovative thinking and excellent levels of service
proactive in our desire for change
Concept was born out of a desire to make a positive contribution to the affordable housing crisis. Our priority is to provide desperately needed homes for social and affordable rent whilst supporting residents who aspire to a home for life.
Everyone that works for Concept is committed to this shared vision and has the attitude and the skill to deliver on it. Our board, management and operational teams have been built with experienced people including many who bring a strong growth mindset from the commercial sector.
We are proud to have built a reputation for having a team that can think flexibly and act with intent and pace.
Robin Lawler - Chair of the Board
Robin is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Housing and a past President of the Institute. He has over 30 years experience working in social housing in local authorities, housing associations & ALMOs.
He retired as CEO of Northwards Housing in December 2020, Manchester’s ALMO, having set it up in 2005. He previously worked at a senior level in Leeds City Council & led Leeds West Homes from its inception. Robin is an experienced board member & is currently Chair of Plus Dane Housing’s property committee.
Robin led on building safety & zero carbon within the Greater Manchester Housing Providers & maintains his commitment to tackling climate change as a trustee of the Carbon Literacy Trust.
A keen cyclist, Robin is also a life long Liverpool fan with a season ticket on the Kop for 30 years.
Richard Wilson - Chair of the Audit, Risk and Growth Committee
Richard is a Fellow of the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales (FCA) with over 30 years of experience in senior finance roles in public and private companies. Richard has worked as an auditor, financial controller, accountant and most recently spent 11 years as Finance Director of Harron Homes Ltd, one of the largest and most profitable housebuilding companies in the north of England, where he steered its financial strategy during a period of unprecedented growth and success.
Richard has extensive Board level experience in both for-profit and not-for-profit organisations, including holding a number of leadership positions.
Safaraz has worked as a Building Surveyor in the social housing and private sector, working within housing adaptions, management and construction. He now runs a successful construction company, nursing home and a domiciliary care company.
Safaraz brings a wealth of knowledge of the housing and social care system setting organisational and policy direction and continues to provide leadership and strategic direction to his companies.
Safaraz has a strong understanding of motivational personnel development, process improvement, quality, contract, and regulatory compliance, including internal auditing.
With his background in both support and housing, Safaraz joined the Board to help Concept to maintain its high support standards and to ensure that residents are provided with the right quality of accommodation which is suitable for their needs.
Jarnail (John) Athwal
John brings to the Board a wealth of experience around business growth, property development and entrepreneurial investment. John formed his furniture business as a young entrepreneur nearly 30 years ago. The business has a reputation for a high quality, bespoke service and regulations in terms of fire safety are as rigorous as in the housing sector, giving John a strong insight of Concept’s assurance standards.
John sits on the Board of a host of organisations, governing over companies and projects as diverse as major land development to ‘tech start-ups’. He is passionate about helping young people to achieve their aspirations and for customers to receive the standards of service, safety and quality that they deserve.
Safraz joined the board after he saw first-hand the good work that the organisation was doing in Birmingham.
Safraz was a founder member of, and has been involved with, a Homeless Outreach Project in the City for over 10 years and is dedicated to helping homeless people and developing anti-homeless strategies. Safraz joined the board to help maintain, challenge and develop the reach and standards of that service and also has a strong background in project management, particularly I.T. which is vital to the continued success and efficient, responsible growth of the organisation.
Tracey is Self Employed providing interim advice, guidance and support, working across the public, private and not-for-profit sector and assisting Senior Leaders; Programme Teams; Boards and Trustees to improve their effectiveness and sustainability. An experienced Programme Director and Non-Executive, she has led and supported teams to develop, implement and deliver multi-million-pound programmes from such funders as Department of Work and Pensions, National Lottery and Sport England. She has an Advance Certificate in Corporate Governance and an MBA.
For six years she was a Non-Executive of a West Midlands based Housing Association, where she sat on its Operations Committee and was joint chair of Nomination and Remunerations.
Abdus (Jeb) Samad
Jeb has worked in the public sector for over 20 years (DWP and local government) and understands the intricacies of working with diverse local authorities.
Jeb joined the organisation to help to support low-income people and to challenge the standards of the organisation to provide high quality accommodation.
the executive team
David Fensome - Chief Executive
David has 4 years social housing experience with other Registered Providers. He has a further 20 years’ commercial experience with several blue chip companies, 15 years of which was as a company Director. Plus he has 10 years’ experience, as an owner/Financial Director, supporting vulnerable people in the care sector.
David has specific experience in building and directing organisations with rapid growth strategies, enabling them to plan for and manage that growth effectively and efficiently. He has a passion for helping vulnerable people due to personal circumstances.
Shakil Mirza - Operations Director
Shakil has a background in senior project management for large organisations such as Capita and Camelott across a number of sectors and joined the board specifically to help steer the many projects that Concept is working on at any point in time.