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#HomesAtTheHeart of prosperous communities

#HomesAtTheHeart of prosperous communities

This week (commencing 28 September) the National Housing Federation led #HomesAtTheHeart campaign highlights the role of social landlords in ‘levelling up’ through employment schemes, championing diversity and helping communities to thrive.

As a community benefit society we’re about people, not profit. We reinvest any surplus money back into supporting communities. We invest so people can avoid or overcome problems, including poverty.

Here’s some of what we do to help local communities prosper. They’re examples of why the social housing sector is well positioned but needs national support to be at the heart of the social and recovery from Coronavirus:

  • Employment support work: We help with CVs and job applications. We provide in-work support to help with the transition from benefits to paid work. We offer quality interview clothing and interview preparation support through our Working Wardrobe service. We arrange work placements for experience and work with Pop Up Business School to help people start up their own businesses. From April 2019 to March 2020 we helped 263 people into paid work and 230 into training.

  • Skills and apprenticeships: We were proud to be named as having the ‘most inspiring apprenticeships programme’ at the annual Inspire Awards last year. These awards champion inclusion and diversity in the UK housing and construction industry. We’ve been supporting apprenticeships for over 30 years. We currently have 17 apprentices and a further 14 employees that benefit from apprenticeship-levy funded training for their job role. Another 21 completed their apprenticeship or training in the last 12 months. Overall, they’ve been working and developing skills and experiences in trades such as plastering, electrical and plumbing, as well as in operational and administrative roles across housing services, community investment, information technology, marketing, payroll, human resources and finance.

  • Progressive procurement and strengthening the local economy: We work with local suppliers who also offer apprenticeship opportunities and pay staff fairly. We spend millions of pounds each year on supporting voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations and our staff dedicate tens of thousands of hours each year to volunteering locally. We’re also one of a group of more than 40 Bolton organisations that make up the Bolton Family and work together to improve the town and strengthen communities.

  • Funding tenant and community initiatives: We run community projects to help people learn new skills and improve mental health. We have peer navigators who help customers to get support from community activities and public services and promote healthy living where appropriate. We support women’s groups, men in sheds projects, parenting activities, community cafes and food growing sites. We work with volunteers and support volunteer groups. From April 2019 to March 2020 we supported 76 community groups and tenants’ and residents’ associations, and brought in £281,522 of external funding for groups and communities.

  • Financial inclusion work: We know that anyone can have financial difficulties through no fault of their own. We don’t want people losing money or getting into debt and worrying about how they’ll manage. This is why we offer debt and money advice and help people reduce their household energy costs. Between April 2019 and March 2020 our Money Advice Team helped more than 1,300 tenants to be financially better off by over £6 million in total. Tenants used our free support to gain benefits and other payments they were entitled to, worth more than £4 million, on top of saving £2 million by avoiding debts and lowering bills. Also, between January and April, 99 customers received energy advice from our energy advisor employed by Starts with you, our social enterprise, and they saved a total of £23,956 following a switch to a new energy provider.

  • Diversity and inclusion work: One of our goals as a housing association is to inspire trust so people can improve their lives and strengthen society. Inside and outside our organisation we promote fairness and respect for difference, equal opportunity and treatment across gender, disability (mental and physical) and different abilities, BAME and LGBT+ rights and support those with caring responsibilities. We support disadvantaged communities at home and also abroad in some cases, and believe that our differences should be embraced and celebrated.

#HomesAtTheHeart is led by the National Housing Federation (www.housing.org.uk). It's a call for a once-in-a-generation national investment for quality affordable housing to be at the heart of plans for social and economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

We’re supporting the Homes At The Heart campaign together with Arcon Housing Association (www.arcon.org.uk) and other members of the Greater Manchester Housing Providers partnership (https://gmhousing.co.uk).

We’re doing our bit to show the Government how investment in social housing and the work that housing providers do boosts the economy, creates jobs and improves people’s lives.

You can get involved in the campaign and conversation on Twitter and Facebook. Use and look out for the #HomesAtTheHeart hash-tag.

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