ASB training programme to be rolled out to 62 staff across the organisation

Posted on October 31st, 2019 by Elaine Davies

A training course for anti-social behavior (ASB) is being rolled out to staff throughout October and November.

The 62 staff members in our Neighbourhood and Concierge Teams are being given the training as part of our Knowledge Academy.

The Knowledge Academy creates training opportunities for different roles across the organisation so staff are qualified and able to do their job to the best of their ability.

The ASB training will be made up of four lots of two-day sessions.

During the first day staff will complete two e-learning modules including ASB enforcement and ASB Management and they will also learn about working with witnesses and victims of ASB.

On the second day teams will also be taught how to interview and take statements.

Training will start for the teams on October 29 and run throughout November.

This training is running alongside our Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) training programme which will see 250 housing staff gain a Level 3 certificate in Housing Practice.

Our Head of Learning and Development, Lisa Robertson, says: “It’s brilliant that we are rolling out our next batch of training for staff.

“We believe our Neighbourhood and Concierge Teams will benefit from this training and it will help them tackle any situation they may face during their day to day role.

“It is part of the Knowledge Academy which will see training rolled out for each team across the organisation.”

This year 208 staff from the Care and Support and the Housing Directorate have also completed their CIH Housing Law training sessions as part of the Knowledge Academy.

Our Director of Housing, Peter Gill, adds: “The training programme we are running with the Chartered Institute of Housing has been received really well by staff who have been given the training already.

“The programme will make such a difference to our staff and customers.”

The next steps for the Knowledge Academy will see Housing and Maintenance training rolled out early next year.

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We help man unemployed for seven years find work through the Building Better Opportunities programme

Posted on October 30th, 2019 by Elaine Davies

A man who struggled with employment has been helped by one of our job coaches through the Building Better Opportunities programme (BBO).

George, who has been diagnosed with autism, met our BBO Job Coach, Catherine Scarlett, at a local voluntary group where she introduced him to the programme.

Previously George had been prescribed medication which changed his personality, resulting in aggressive outbursts. This led to social services and the police turning up at his family home and moving him to a hostel.

After moving to a third hostel George was physically restrained while having a meltdown because he wanted to leave to go back home. George lashed out and it resulted in a conviction for criminal damage and actual bodily harm.

George was moved to a hospital specialising in autism – where he was gradually taken off the medication that caused the change in his personality.

Eventually he moved back home with his family and he joined the Worcestershire based organisation Our Way. This helps vulnerable adults and young people take part in social events.

George, who is now living in Hereford, met our Job Coach Catherine when she visited Our Way.

He said: “It took me seven years to find work because of my conviction but Cathy gave me a confidence boost – I was going to give up with employment because of the negative responses I had from other organisations when applying for jobs.

“Cathy and I saw a job online and I decided to fill in the application to get used to the process. I ended up being given an interview and I was offered the job.

“I was looking for voluntary work to begin with, but the Building Better Opportunities programme allowed me to get into paid employment.

“I definitely have more self-confidence and I feel a lot happier, more valued and appreciated thanks to the scheme.”

This Building Better Opportunities programme is funded by the European Social Fund and match funded by the National Lottery Community Fund and we are one of the partners in the project. It helps people who are unemployed with work experience and job opportunities throughout Worcestershire.

George added: “People shouldn’t be afraid of the programme, they should give it a go. The job coaches make you feel comfortable and you shouldn’t give up on your hopes and dreams.”

Our Job Coach, Catherine Scarlett, says: “It is a fantastic result that we have managed to help George get into employment after he struggled for all these years.

“He just needed a bit of support and we are so pleased that we were able to give him this as part of the Building Better Opportunities programme.

“We are so pleased for George and we are looking forward to helping many other people with the scheme too.”

The programme has been running for two years and George is one of the people we have helped.

So far Cathy has worked with 45 individuals across Worcestershire – four have been helped into education, 10 into employment and four have left the programme to individually job search.

The programme specifically helps those furthest from the workplace with a focus on overcoming barriers such as drug and alcohol addiction, mental ill health and homelessness.

Funding for the programme has been secured until September 2022 and it will help anyone in Worcestershire who is unemployed, has a legal right to work in the UK and is of working age. Most of the participants – around 60 % – are our tenants who have been referred by our money advice, lettings and neighbourhoods’ services.

Those who would like to contact the programme should contact us on 0300 790 6555.

The Building Better Opportunities programme is collaborative programme with Vestia, Fusion, the National Lottery Community Fund and the European Social Fund.

It will receive £6 million of funding from the National Lottery Community Fund and the European Social Fund as part of the 2014-2020 European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme in England.

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Sound financial position of Citizen confirmed in credit rating

Posted on October 28th, 2019 by Steve Hayes

The sound financial position of Citizen has been confirmed in our latest credit rating.

Moody’s, a credit rating agency which rates the financial position of housing associations every year, confirmed our A2 rating.

The rating considers several factors, including the stability of our income and the status of our borrowing.

Last year’s rating upgraded us from A3 to A2 and this year’s rating confirms this position. It means that we are comfortably inside the top half of housing associations in the UK and only a handful have a better rating.

Moody’s said the rating reflected recent improvements to our governance and management structure, the fact a high proportion of our turnover comes from low-risk social housing lettings and our moderate debt levels. The rating also commented on a likely increase in revenue through homes for sale.

Stuart Kellas, our Chief Financial Officer, said: “We’re delighted to retain our credit rating at A2 following our upgrade last year.

“This reflects continuing work to streamline our governance structure and finances and our solid financial base.

“Our A2 rating reflects our strong financial position and continues to demonstrate our credentials.”

You can read the full credit rating here.

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Our Development team reveal total amount raised at Charity Party Night earlier this year

Posted on October 21st, 2019 by Elaine Davies

Our Development team are thrilled to have raised thousands for two charities close to their hearts.

In total the team raised £8,025 from the Development Charity Party Night which was held in June this year.

More than 80 staff, contractors and consultants attended the event at Stonebridge Golf Club, Meriden, and the money raised has been split between SUDEP Action and the MPS Society.

The team decided to support the charities after our Business Improvement Manager, Natalie Treadwell, was helped by SUDEP when her younger sister tragically died of Sudden Unexplained Death in Epilepsy 12 years ago this December.

Our Director of Development, Richard Whittaker, has also made it his mission to raise money for the MPS Society after his great-nephew, Harley, was diagnosed with the condition at the age of two.

MPS causes progressive and physical disability and severe degenerative mental deterioration resulting in death in childhood.

Natalie says: “We’re are so proud to have raised such an impressive amount for two worthwhile charities.

“To raise over £8,000 is a fantastic achievement and a huge thanks go to the team who helped to organise the event and everyone who attended.

“This was the first event we have ever organised, and it’s a great start! Thanks to everyone who has donated and helped these two brilliant charities!

“I’d also like to thank Sharon Taylor, Dawn Barker and Moira Kerby who helped us organise the event.”

The night included heartfelt speeches, a fantastic performance from our Executive Director of Development Nick Byrne’s band, Rebellious Jukebox, and attendees were also able to dance the night away with a DJ on hand till the early hours.

The team also held a raffle with some amazing prizes including an experience at the BBC and afternoon tea at Hogarth’s in Solihull.

Richard Whittaker adds: “Thank you to everyone who has donated money or who joined us on the night. We would like to give our sponsors a special mention including Seddon Construction, Beyond Consulting, Twoplustwo Construction Consultants, BM3 Architecture, Bridgehouse Valuation Services, Anthony Collins Solicitors and Faithful and Gould.

“All the money raised will be a huge benefit to the two charities, and both are very worthwhile causes.”

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Our Equalities Manager Ravinder Kaur is selected for National Housing Federation group

Posted on October 15th, 2019 by Elaine Davies

Our Equalities Manager Ravinder Kaur has been selected as a member of the National Housing Federation’s (NHF) Diversity, Equality and Inclusion group.

The group is made up of 18 people from across England – so it’s a great achievement for Ravinder to be chosen.

The newly formed strategic group will address diversity, equality and inclusion across the country for housing customers and staff.

The group has been tasked with co-creating a programme of work with the NHF to help show leadership when it comes to diversity in our sector – it will also drive a shift in culture to deliver more inclusive workplaces.

Ravinder says: “I am thrilled to be selected as part of the group and to be only one of 18 people in the country is a great achievement.

“Being part of this group is a great opportunity to be able to improve our sector in terms diversity, equality and inclusion whilst also raising the profile of our organisation.

“We live in a diverse society and I’m looking forward to working with the group to make this better.

“I hope that by meeting with the group we will be able to combat some of the discrimination against individuals and groups in protected communities that are living in social housing, and diversity should also be reflected in the workforce in all levels and all pay bands.

“I am hoping the group will provide guidance to housing providers to break down the barriers that hold people back and give them opportunities to succeed.”

The first meeting is to take place in London tomorrow, October 16.

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Our award-winning building surveyor is up for national award at the Constructing Excellence Awards

Posted on October 14th, 2019 by Elaine Davies

Our Building Surveyor Wesley Belle has been nominated for a national award at the Constructing Excellence Awards to be held this November.

Wesley won two awards in April at the Midlands G4C Constructing Excellence Awards – Young Trainee of the Year and Young Achiever of the Year which automatically made him a finalist in the national awards.

Wesley will be up against the Young Achiever of the Year from seven regions across the UK at the ceremony to be held at the London Marriott Grosvenor Square Hotel on November 8.

If Wesley wins, he will be named as G4C’s Future Leader.

Wesley started working for us as a Tenant Liaison Officer in 2013 and realised he wanted to become a building surveyor while working on a regeneration project in Woodend, Coventry, and he pestered his manager to allow him to retrain. He started as a Trainee Building Surveyor for the organisation in 2015.

The nearest master’s course in building surveying was at Nottingham Trent University and Wesley used up some of his annual leave to attend lectures and exams – often getting home at midnight and then working full time for the rest of the week.

Wesley says: “I was so thrilled to have won two awards earlier this year and it’s a bonus to be nominated for a national award.

“I’m so proud of what I have achieved so far, and a national award would be the icing on the cake for me!

“It feels great that I’ve been recognised for my work.”

After completing his degree, Wesley was awarded a distinction and was given an extra award for the Most Outstanding Performance on the MSc Building Surveying degree from the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors.

The Constructing Excellence Awards will be held on November 8 – fingers crossed for you Wesley!

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‘We need to take the housing profession seriously’ – Read our CEO, Kevin Rodgers’, blog for the CIH website

Posted on October 1st, 2019 by Elaine Davies

Our Chief Executive, Kevin Rodgers, has written a piece for the Chartered Institute Housing (CIH) website.

The CIH is the independent voice for housing and the home of professional standards.

Kevin gives his view of the importance of taking the role of the housing professional seriously.

You can read the full article here:

We need to take the housing profession seriously

I’ve always found it strange that as housing associations we employ people who are professionally qualified and trained in a huge range of disciplines; from chartered surveyors to trade engineers to accountants and so on, yet the core part of our work – housing management – is nowhere near as professionalised.

This is something we need to change because there are very real risks to us not taking this central element of our service seriously.

Firstly, and most importantly, the people on the frontline providing our services to our customers simply must have the skills and knowledge to do their jobs to a high standard. If we don’t take the same professional approach that we take to our other disciplines, then we risk providing a service which is not fit for purpose and that is a risk we cannot afford to take.

Secondly, we must invest in our housing colleagues in the same way that we do with our finance, development, HR or any other colleagues in our business because it is simply the right thing to do. How can we expect to attract and retain the best people to do the hugely important work that our housing teams do if we don’t take the profession seriously and give people who work in it the opportunity to learn and develop as much as we do in other parts of our organisations?

And finally, we must do it to protect the future of our organisations and to retain our sense of purpose. Because if we don’t invest in our housing professionals there is a very real risk we could lose that.

We are proud to have recently started a pilot for a major programme which will see all our housing staff, 250 of them, gain a Level 3 Certificate in Housing Practice with the CIH.

The bespoke training programme will cover eight key elements of housing management, including everything from managing lettings and income to dealing with anti-social behaviour and understanding the legal framework.

Colleagues will have face-to-face study time and work on assignments over a ten-month period to gain the qualification, all of which will be overseen and accredited by the CIH.

This is a £250,000 investment for us as well as a considerable investment of staff time and resource but equipping our housing professionals with the knowledge and skills they need to offer the best service that they can is something we are absolutely committed to.

For us the driving force behind the move to our new Citizen brand is improving our services and a big part of that is making sure we invest in the people providing them.

We must give the housing profession the respect it deserves if our sector is to get the respect it deserves.

Kevin Rodgers, Chief Executive, Citizen

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