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Winners - 2014

Community Achievement

Winner: Phoenix Community Housing - The Green Man

The Green Man is the physical symbol of years of effort by community campaigners in south Lewisham to improve their area.

Phoenix Community Housing became London’s first resident-owned social landlord in 2007 thanks to the tenacity of tenants like Pat Fordham MBE and David Cummins. One of the promises made to tenants before its creation was to build a new HQ at the heart of its 6,300 homes.

Phoenix acquired the site of a derelict pub and asked tenants for their ideas for the building. It soon became clear that their vision was far removed from traditional office space.

The Green Man opened in November 2013 as not only the headquarters for Phoenix’s 150 staff, but also home to a training kitchen, community café, function space and a branch of the local credit union. It hosts everything from Zumba classes to job clubs and business breakfasts, and more than 12,500 people visited it in the first eight months.

The creation of The Green Man represents the realisation of a dream for Phoenix’s resident founders. It is acting as a catalyst for community regeneration in one of the UK’s most deprived areas and will change thousands of people’s lives.

Highly Commended:

Two Rivers Housing: Blakeney Community Green

What started as a modest project to encourage greater use of a village recreation ground has helped to invigorate and transform an entire Forest of Dean Community, by tackling rural isolation; promoting friendships, health and education; and stimulating local trade and tourism.

Also shortlisted:
Knightstone Housing Group
Luminus Group
Origin Housing
St Leger Homes of Doncaster

Best Green Scheme

Winner: United House/NHP Developments/Mitsubishi - Kingston Heights

Kingston Heights is an innovative zero carbon £70 million mixed-use residential and hotel complex located 200 metres from the River Thames in Kingston town centre, Surrey.

The scheme comprises 137 residential apartments (56 ‘affordable’, managed by Affinity Sutton, and 81 private) and a 142-bed hotel and conference centre.

Uniquely, the development was conceived to make use of water from the River Thames for all its heating and hot water requirements, thanks to a pioneering new open water heat pump system that drew inspiration from a scheme in Osaka, Japan.

Kingston Heights is the first and only installation in the UK to utilise this system which recovers the solar energy stored naturally within river water. The scheme, which uses cutting-edge heat pump technology, produces zero on-site carbon emissions, instead of the estimated 500 tonnes of C02 emissions that would have been dumped annually into the environment by an alternative combustion-based district heating system.

The system is capable of generating 2.3Mw of thermal energy and, in a further commitment to all things green, the electricity needed to run the pump is generated by a wind-turbine, meaning it’s carbon neutral too. 

Highly Commended:

AmicusHorizon: Innovation for Renewal

The housing provider’s thermal imaging surveys have been helping households to save around £500 a year on their fuel bills.

Hastoe: Straw Bale Homes

Hastoe became the first housing association in England to build straw bale homes when it developed four ‘affordable’ units in Essex.

Also shortlisted:
Tower Hamlets Homes
Lambeth Living
Bron Afon Community Housing
First Ark Group (Knowsley Housing Trust)

Social Media Pioneers

Winner: Yorkshire Housing - #HousingDay 2013

What moves at 1,000 tweets an hour? Believed to be the biggest ever social media campaign to throw the spotlight on the sector and the people who make it special, #HousingDay, masterminded by Yorkshire Housing’s Adrian Capon, certainly made an impact.

The 24-hour tweetathon united housing organisations across the nation in shining a light on the work in their communities.

#HousingDay was an online collaboration conceived on Yammer and mobilised within a fortnight. Support poured in quickly, and no face-to-face meetings were needed.

The first time a housing-related topic trended on Twitter, #HousingDay notched up a total of 10,045 tweets, reaching an estimated 1.8 million people, from 2,625 contributors, generating 11.6 million exposures.

Tweets showed how housing makes a difference and a Storify from the day provided only a snapshot of activity. Stories ranged from helping tackle the plight of homelessness to supporting tenants to overcome barriers to employment.

A survey gauging the day’s impact revealed that more than half of those taking part said it demonstrated the sector’s great work and the employee pride that goes with it. 

Highly Commended:

Yorkshire Coast Homes: #YCHCareNShare

YCH spread random acts of kindness through its social media campaign, and relied on people doing something positive and then nominating others to do the same. ‘CareNShares’ included things like dog walking, to a YCH officer leaving money behind the counter of a cafe to treat others to a free lunch.

Also shortlisted:
Salix Homes
Seren Group/Charter Housing
Wheatley Group

Best Apprenticeship Scheme

Winner: City West Housing Trust - Skills Programme

City West helps to create sustainable communities by ensuring that for every £1 million invested, a new job is created with training provided to NVQ Level 2 or equivalent.

To date, its Skills Programme has helped 250 long-term unemployed residents to find work and training in roles such as administration, bricklaying, flooring and plastering, with 73% of apprenticeships going to local people in Salford. 21% of its apprentices are women, almost double the national average of 11%.

City West works in partnership with Salford City College to run the Schools Link Construction programme, providing opportunities to local 14 to 16 year olds, and the College Links Programme which has seen 144 young people gain vital skills and experience to help them into future employment.

Apprentices work a 40-hour week and get paid for 30 with the remaining 10 ‘banked’ over the first year to provide a subsidised rent for their new home.

City West’s income is re-invested into improving homes, neighbourhoods and service development. Its independent social impact report shows that by recruiting local apprentices, investment has benefited the local economy by £40,000 a year. The report also shows that for 129 apprenticeship ‘graduates’ who have been employed for at least six months, the contribution to the local economy was £500,000.

Highly Commended:

Home Group: Inspiring Futures

Home’s Inspiring Futures is a four-staged approach that gives all participants the opportunity to become an apprentice by removing age and qualification barriers. Home has worked with partners such as The Prince’s Trust and Sunderland FC to ensure those who take part are given an opportunity that is relevant to them.

Also shortlisted:
Coastline Housing
Wolverhampton Homes
Lambeth Living

Customer Service Provider of the Year

Winner: Richmond Housing Partnership - Wowing Our Customers

RHP wants to provide its tenants with the best service in the UK – not just in housing but across all sectors. And it’s not doing badly either.

Nearly 90% of the provider’s tenants say they like what it does and half are ‘very satisfied’ with its service. Measuring ‘very satisfied’ customers is RHP’s indication of success and gives it the insight and knowledge to continually adapt and improve.

RHP says that great service comes from employees who have the freedom to resolve issues, be brave and use innovative ways of ‘wowing’ tenants. The social landlord says it avoids a ‘one size fits all’ approach and adapts its service to suit its tenants’ varying needs; whether food shopping for vulnerable residents or buying furniture for somebody who was previously homeless.

RHP meets its tenants in pubs, cafes, libraries or wherever they feel comfortable, at times that suit them.

It was the first housing association to offer tenants the opportunity to book two-hour repairs appointments online. It has one of the lowest void rates in the country and has been recognised with a plethora of national awards. Most recently, RHP’s customer service team scooped another award, making it the best in Europe for the fourth time in a row. 

Highly Commended:

Southway Housing Trust: Connect

Southway’s Connect team has been leading the way in delivering improvements across the business, supporting the ‘Everyone Matters’ framework, developing the Customer Charter and ensuring there is an auditable trail for every enquiry the 6,000-home provider receives.

Also shortlisted:
Sentinel Housing Association
Berneslai Homes

Innovation of the Year

Winner: Brighton Housing Trust - Shipping Container Homes

With Brighton and Hove facing a desperate situation regarding housing, imaginative and innovative solutions are required.

Working with QED, BHT has tried to tackle the problem by creating 36 homes from converted shipping containers to provide temporary accommodation for homeless men and women in the city.

The shipping container homes were supported by Homebase which helped to ‘make a house a home’ by donating starter packs to furnish each and every unit.

The finished homes are truly amazing and people comment on how comfortable, stylish and homely they look. Most importantly, the 36 residents who live at Richardson’s Yard are happy with their new homes. A recent survey confirmed that residents loved having their own front door and kitchen and bathroom.

Since moving into their new homes, many have started to study or work; feeling that having a ‘base’ has allowed them to start to think about their future; enabling them to move on from homelessness towards more positive futures.

There has been a lot of interest from organisations from across the UK that are now looking to replicate the idea in their area in the hope that they too can begin to tackle the growing housing issues they are facing.

Highly Commended:

Stoke-on-Trent City Council/Kier Stoke: Homes for £1

Faced with 33 empty terraced properties, the council came up with a radical proposal: refit the homes, sell them for a nominal £1 price and get the buyers to take out a low-interest £30,000 loan to cover the refurbishment.

Also shortlisted:
Together Housing Group
Wheatley Group
Thames Valley Housing Association
Stockport Homes
London Borough of Havering/Liberty Housing

Care & Support Provider of the Year

Winner: South Yorkshire Housing Association - LiveWell

SYHA spent a challenging year reshaping its care and support arm, LiveWell – and it had to: the business provides 60% of the 6,000-home provider’s turnover.

The social landlord overhauled its approach from top-to-bottom, bringing in cutting-edge leadership to realise a new strategy. The results have been fantastic.

SYHA has secured £7m in new investment; transformed the way it works with tenants, recruiting a head of personalisation to drive excellence in co-production; and has used data to fuel its growth. Commissioners now regard SYHA as the most innovative, natural leader of health and social care partnerships.

It has led a successful £6m partnership bid to the Big Lottery‘s Fulfilling Lives, Ageing Better programme, the only housing association to do so. It has also secured £575,000 from the Department of Health to deliver Over2You, a customer-led quality assurance network. SYHA led a successful PlaceShapers partnership application – the first of its kind – for this funding.

CCGs and local authorities have been jointly commissioning its LiveWell service to keep people out of hospital for longer. SYHA has also launched the LiveWell Centre, a state-of-the-art community hub.

Highly Commended:

Curo: Saving the Public Purse

Curo has saved the public purse £16.1m in the last year through a range of innovative approaches, including a rural dementia support service; a ‘3-square’ healthy eating project for young foyer residents; and a ‘Clean and Shop’ service to help older people regain confidence in doing household tasks after hospital or illness.

Also shortlisted:
Luminus Group
Weaver Vale Housing Trust
Macintyre Housing Association 
Futures Homescape (Futures)
Black Country Housing Group

Best Training Scheme

Winner: Watford Community Housing - Jobs at Home

WCH’s Jobs at Home social enterprise offers tenants the chance to learn a trade and gain permanent employment within their communities.

Developed in January 2013 by WCH, Thrive Homes and the Housing Leadership Foundation, it employs tenants who were unemployed or in insecure employment to undertake internal room decorations, provide a handyperson service and fit aids and adaptations.

Jobs at Home trains the operatives up to NVQ Level 3, but does not charge any more than the contractors that the housing associations would otherwise use.

The model is attractive to providers because it makes use of a rule introduced under the Finance Act 2012, which allows groups of organisations to share services such as repairs without incurring VAT. It’s thought that Jobs at Home is the first scheme in the housing sector to take advantage of the exemption.

A third housing association, B3 Living, has since joined Jobs at Home in Hertfordshire. And the model is now being rolled out in other parts of the country – with AmicusHorizon and Croydon Churches setting up their franchises in the last year, and further housing associations due to come on board.

Highly Commended:

Tower Hamlets Homes: Mental Health First Aiders

THH’s Mental Health First Aiders training has given frontline housing staff the skills and knowledge to provide more accessible and inclusive services for residents with mental health issues. By July 2014, the ALMO had trained 23 members of staff as mental health first aiders.

Also shortlisted:
Phoenix Community Housing
Aragon Housing Association
Wellingborough Homes
North Tyneside Council
Viridian Housing

Welfare Wise

Winner: New Charter Housing Trust Group - UC Ready

New Charter genuinely cares about its tenants and has demonstrated active long-term commitment to providing high levels of care, enabling residents to live productive, sustainable lives.

As part of the first universal credit pathfinder, New Charter’s preparations in readiness for the implementation included: Thinking Big (Big Income Generation) and Shield of Support (SOS) resilience training; its Specialist Welfare Reform Advice Team (SWAT) delivering an innovative approach through a support questionnaire to 6,000 tenants; home and community hubs facilitating food bank vouchers; Connect (Customer Contact Centre) supporting tenants at their first point of contact; and sharing best practice with landlords and leading partners.

Over the last 12 months, New Charter has helped its tenants claim £1.25m in unclaimed benefits, dealt with £3.2m of debt and secured £57,000 in discretionary housing payments.

The group’s three-year Great Opportunities programme, which includes nine job clubs, has helped 187 people into employment and 30 young people into training. Additionally, the 19,500-home provider has partnered with the Greggs Foundation to provide free breakfast clubs at two schools in its neighbourhoods.

Highly Commended:

OVH: Creating Lasting Legacies

With One Vision Housing’s tenants some of the hardest hit by welfare reform, the Merseyside-based provider has focused on youth engagement, regularly visiting schools to promote careers.

Stockport Homes: Bedroom tax help

The ALMO has been highly successful in supporting tenants hit by the bedroom tax, managing to reduce the amount of affected households by 31%; help 1,167 tenants to claim DHPs; and win five appeals.

Also shortlisted:
Places for People Group
South Tyneside Homes
Viridian Housing
Salix Homes

Repairs & Maintenance Provider of the Year

Winner: Stockport Homes - Repair 1st Team

Stockport Homes’ Repair 1st Team has continued to deliver exactly what its tenants need: 99.2% of repairs right first time, with a 97.5% satisfaction rate.

In addition to providing repairs and maintenance to the housing provider’s 11,700 properties, the team has delivered £2.86m of commercial works, providing a net surplus of £112,000, which was invested in services for tenants.

Through the B4box social value initiative, the Repair 1st Team has also offered employment opportunities to 13 ex-offenders by identifying future skills gaps. B4box trains apprentices to meet the skills gap with a dedicated training school, on the job experience and guaranteed work at the end. Trainees have learned new skills in order to maintain photo-voltaic panels and five biomass district heating serving 4,000 homes across Stockport.

The team has delivered over 30 community activities, including mock interview days at a local high school and work experience for students; improvement works, free of charge, in several local community centres; a DIY skills course for tenants; and fitting out and decorating Stockport Homes’ community food sharing project, Penny Lane Pantry.

Highly Commended:

City West Housing Trust: City West Works

Launched in April 2013, in its first year City West Works carried out in excess of 45,000 repairs jobs - 96% of which were completed first time - and slashed the waiting list for home adaptions from 500 to 20. It has also created 100 jobs and 19 apprentices.

Also shortlisted:
Wales & West Housing Group
Keepmoat/Leeds Federated Housing
Places for People Group
Spire Homes
Plastic Surgeon
Willmott Dixon Partnerships

Tenant Champion

Winner: Lambeth Living - Jean Haley

In 40 years of living in Upper Norwood, south London, Jean Haley has made a huge difference to her neighbours’ quality of life.

Living in and tirelessly working for the Central Hill Estate since it was built 40 years ago, Jean has never stopped. Whether it is campaigning for safety from knives and asbestos, creating community resource centres or helping neighbouring communities – Jean has done it all. Highlights from Jean’s lifelong dedication and drive include: Getting ‘knife crime’ debated in parliament by presenting the MP for Norwood with a box of knives from a weapons amnesty and local shops; lobbying for a new Lambeth Asbestos Commission to carry out surveys and build up a borough-wide asbestos register, increasing safety for tenants and builders; raising £50,000 for school holiday coaching from Fulham Football Club; chairing the local tenants and residents association since 1983 and helping establish other community groups; and raising over £250,000 for Berridge Road Estate Resource Centre.

Jean was awarded an MBE in 2005, was honoured in 2012 as a ‘Community Champion’ by Dame Tessa Jowell MP and given an ‘Outstanding Service Award’ by Lambeth’s mayor and the chairman of Lambeth Living.

Highly Commended:

St Leger Homes of Doncaster: Maureen Tennison

Maureen set up Edlington Royal TARA 16 years ago as a response to anti-social problems on her estate, and has gone on to form excellent relationships with the police. When two young brothers were attacked in woodland near the village in 2009, Maureen formed a group that has worked tirelessly to restore the area.

Also shortlisted:
Cotman Housing Association/Places for People: Amanda Marsh
Soha: Carole Burchett
Rochdale Boroughwide Housing: Claire James
North Tyneside Council: Bob Carpenter

Affordable Housing Scheme of the Year

Winner: Catalyst Housing - Kingsgate House

Kingsgate House in London’s Chelsea is a seven-storey development offering ‘affordable’ and spacious apartments for people who live or work in the borough.

The development provides 43 homes: 12 one-bed shared ownership flats and 31 rented flats, ranging in size from one to four bedrooms. The development replaced a red-brick office block which had been the home of Penguin Books.

The building features a range of environmentally-friendly design features and meets level 4 of the Code for Sustainable Homes. It is the first building in the world to achieve a PEFC certification – demonstrating that all the timber used was both sustainable and ethically sourced.

It has eye-catching green photovoltaic (PV) cells, which run vertically down the front of the building and are designed to look like a living wall. The PV cells generate free electricity and help shade the apartments from the sun. Each apartment has its own recessed balcony which stays cool during the day.

Instead of the usual heavy concrete or steel, the structure of the building was built using much lighter cross-laminated timber (CLT). As well as saving at least 170 lorry journeys to deliver the beams to the site, the use of timber also provided a number of environmental benefits.

Highly Commended:

Newlon Housing Trust: Isobel Place

Newlon took on ownership of Tottenham Town Hall and fully renovated and modernised it to realise its adjacent Isobel Place scheme. The development offers social rents at an average £110 a week.

Origin Housing: The Bloc

The regeneration scheme has seen dilapidated 1970s buildings replaced with 221 social rent, shared ownership and intermediate rent homes for NHS staff in Middlesex.

Also shortlisted:
Wales & West Housing
Housing People, Building Communities/Sanctuary Group
Cross Keys Homes
North Ayrshire Council

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