Jan at community day

Sharing stories of our success - part two

Recognition for the hard work of customers and colleagues

In part two of this blog, our Neighbourhoods director Jan Goode explains more ways we have been making a big difference to communities in Shropshire and Staffordshire.

Last time (read part one) I explained some of the reason why Housing Plus Group won a Commitment to the Community Award at the recent Midlands Business Awards. We were so proud of this because it is recognised the hard work of colleagues, stakeholders and our customers. Because there are so many good things to share I have outlined below some more of the success stories that were recognised.

Supporting communities into work

We run Job Clubs within our Digital Dens in Shropshire, helping people update their CVs, search for jobs and prepare for interviews. Last year more than 1,000 attendances were recorded and ten people found employment as a direct result of the support they received.

In Staffordshire, we are a partner in the highly successful Work Clubs. Work Clubs provide one-to-one career coaching, confidence building sessions, help with interview techniques, signposts to local support services and free access to the internet for job searches.

In 2017 Severnside Housing and South Staffordshire Housing Association together attracted grants of £265,000 into the Midlands to support projects targeting people seen as furthest away from employment. The grants came from the Building Better Opportunities programme funded by the Big Lottery Fund and the European Social Fund.

We provide work experience and placement opportunities in partnership with the Job Centre and also partners with the Prince’s Trust and Wolverhampton College to help young people aged 16-25 complete a 12-week programme turning around their lives.

Helping people into employment benefits the business as well as individuals and the wider community. Customers in employment are not subject to the reduction of income posed by welfare reform.

Read Stephen’s story

Building homes to meet local needs

Our development team works very closely with partners to deliver new homes meeting the specific housing needs of local communities. Last year we built or acquired 200 new high-quality homes.

Read Debbie’s story

Discover more about our Curlew Meadows and River View developments

Fair Landlord policies

South Staffordshire Housing Association introduced innovative Fair Landlord policies to provide a decision-making framework for charges, spending and investment in an era of austerity, welfare reform and government imposed rent reduction.

Fair Landlord policies ensure that the association works to benefit the majority of customers. Results have included:

  • Effective action to address Anti Social Behaviour (ASB)
  • Tighter control on costs where spending benefits a minority of customers
  • Redistribution of resources to invest in home improvements and the development of new homes for local communities.

Fair Landlord policies have also benefited the business. Greater financial resilience means that Housing Plus Group has been able to continue building new homes and investing in its housing stock where other housing associations have had to make deep cuts in services.

After its very successful launch in Staffordshire, Fair Landlord has now been rolled out in Shropshire.

Social return on investment

We’ve undertaken a number of studies measuring the social return on its investment in local communities.

The Group operates a number of Extra Care retirement living communities. The research measured the financial return for the local economy in areas such as increased employment and a reduction in hospital stays and GP appointments. The study found that every £1 invested by Housing Plus Group produced a social return to the community of £11.01.

Money advice

South Staffordshire Housing Association and Severnside Housing employ dedicated teams to help residents reduce debt, maximise their income and budget effectively.

The teams make a big contribution to the lives of residents and by helping customers to prioritise bills they reduce rent debt and local homelessness.

Giving residents access to expert money advice and are given help to manage their income benefits the business because customers avoid rent debt and keep their home safe. We thereby reduce the cost to the business of rent debt, court costs, eviction and empty homes.

Encouraging customers to have a direct involvement in the way that housing and services are provided

The Group offers a range of different ways for customers to help shape the services it provides. Three customer panels look in detail at different parts of its work and reports to the board of management. (check)

Find out more about this work

Did you miss part one?

Read part one of Jan’s blog. You can find out more about what is happening in the Group on our news pages.