Our Director of Customer Services Lourdes Sharpe has been invited to join the CCA board

Posted on September 23rd, 2020 by Elaine Davies

Following on from our Customer Service Team being CCA (Customer Contact Association) accredited for the fourth year in a row, our Director of Customer Services Lourdes Sharpe has been invited to be a board member.

This means that she will play a part in helping organisations become accredited.

Lourdes has joined the review board, and this means that she will look at the assessor’s report as an independent check of the assessor’s recommendations.
She will also make sure that sufficient evidence for compliance against standards has been supplied to ensure accreditation.

As part of the role she will also pick up and promote good practice and encourage shared learning.

Lourdes said: “I’m thrilled to be asked to join – and I feel proud that Citizen is up there with the big organisations including national banks, the NHS, government departments and other private sector members having an influence.

“I was invited to join the board – I do have some experience in a previous life of conducting assessments against standards and I know the CCA have always been impressed at how Citizen approached our accreditation assessments.

“It’s also a bit scary – I will have to be brave and honest. On the receiving end I know what it’s like waiting for that report after you have had an assessment and how its shared around organisations, even to board level.

“I want to accurately reflect the organisation I am reviewing, the work they are doing and how they have progressed year on year as my team and I know first-hand what it takes!”

The board ensures standards are maintained, it identifies good practice and recognises learning opportunities.

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Affordable homes are handed over to customers at our Little Moor Hill development in Smethwick

Posted on September 7th, 2020 by Elaine Davies

Affordable homes at our Little Moor Hill development in Smethwick have been completed and handed over to our customers.

The £3.8m development which is being built by TC Homes is made up of 22 homes – 11 affordable rent and 11 shared ownership.

The homes are a mix of two- and three-bedroom homes.

Pupils from the Devonshire Junior Academy also chose the road name for the development last year – naming it Symphony Drive after Symphony Hall in Birmingham.

Our Executive Director of Development Nick Byrne said: “It’s great to see these affordable rent homes completed and handed over to our customers.

“Housing is much needed in the area and this will help to provide families with homes.

“It’s a great development and it’s lovely to see that local schoolchildren named the road too.”

Nick attended the site with representatives from TC Homes.

Site Manager for TC Homes (Contracting) LTD, Paul Bennett, added: “It’s been brilliant working on this development with Citizen and it’s good to see the homes being handed over to customers despite a challenging year with the outbreak of Covid 19.

“We’re continuing work on the rest of the site with the shared ownership properties planned for completion in September.”

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“We must stay focused on our social purpose as we respond to the coronavirus pandemic” – Read our CEO Kevin Rodgers’ comment piece for Inside Housing

Posted on September 3rd, 2020 by Elaine Davies

This week our Chief Executive Kevin Rodgers features in a comment piece in Inside Housing, the biggest magazine in the housing sector.

The piece focuses on how housing associations must stay focused on their social purpose as they respond to the coronavirus pandemic and discusses the launch of our 2020-23 business strategy this week.

Read the full article below:

It’s hard to know if we will ever go back to what we considered normal just six months ago.

As we look to the future plenty of challenges lie ahead for housing associations.

How do we respond to the huge barriers many people in our communities face as we enter recession?

How do we capitalise on the opportunity to arrange our workplaces differently, in a way which supports us to work more effectively and satisfies the demand from our teams for greater flexibility?

How do we meet the changing expectations our residents have about the services we provide and the way we provide them?

Yet despite all the potential for the way that we work and the world around us to change, some things don’t.

Let’s be honest – we haven’t fared anywhere near as badly as many sectors during the pandemic.

Of course there have been challenges, but if you think the impact on your income forecast and your other KPIs has been severe, spare a thought for what the books of a travel firm, a retail outlet or a chain of restaurants must look like.

I don’t want to belittle the recovery needed to get our work back on track. At Citizen our teams have been working extremely hard to bring our performance back to the level it was prior to the pandemic.

But the need for the services that we provide is not going away and people in our communities are likely to need us as much as ever in the coming months and years.

We all have a duty to quickly refocus on the work that can make the biggest difference to the most people.

On 1 September we mark our first birthday as Citizen and little could we have known the challenges that lay in story for our first 12 months.

Just two weeks before lockdown came into effect we launched the headlines of our 2020-23 business strategy to our staff with a view to launching the full strategy in April. Needless to say, when coronavirus came along there were other priorities and we delayed this.

Six months later we are now in a position to use our anniversary to reveal our objectives for the next three years.

Many housing associations will have been having similar conversations, and the challenge we must set when we do this is not to bring the axe down on the projects that are difficult and do not deliver an immediate – or any – financial return.

We all need to focus on financial targets and viability to secure our future, but we also need to keep our decision-making rooted in our social purpose.

Relative to the incredibly difficult conversations boards and executive teams must be having in other sectors, I feel very fortunate that when we came to review our initial strategy we were able to proceed with nearly all of our plans.

And the first projects that we wanted to preserve were those we know will have the biggest impact on the lives of people in our communities.

So, for example, we will continue to pilot our new re-let standard and we will continue with our massive long-term regeneration projects in Coventry. Neither of these projects will bring in more income, but they are investments in our communities which will be life-changing for generations to come.

They were the right thing to do before the pandemic, and they still are.

The nature of coronavirus is extraordinary, but we’ve faced many challenges in our sector; some which have affected our organisations more severely than this.

So, as we look to recover and work out how we support the people who really need us, let’s challenge ourselves to keep doing the work which has the biggest impact on our communities.

That is what we are here to do and in an ever-changing world, it is one thing which has not changed.

Kevin Rodgers, Chief Executive at Citizen

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We reveal our exciting plans in our new business strategy on our first birthday

Posted on September 1st, 2020 by Elaine Davies

As we celebrate our first birthday as Citizen we are delighted to be able to launch our new 2020-23 business strategy.

In 2019 we went through one of the most significant changes in our history when we amalgamated our group structure and rebranded as Citizen.

We said from the start that this would be much more than a change of name and Home is our foundation for life sets out an ambitious plan to transform our organisation and our services over the next three years.

Our purpose is to provide homes that are a foundation for life and we can’t think of a better name for a strategy that will guide our work over the coming years.

In the strategy we make three core pledges and set out seven focused objectives that we are committed to achieving by 2023. To meet this commitment, we also outline a series of projects which will transform our services and the way that we provide them.

Kevin Rodgers, our Chief Executive, said: “We are passionate about our social purpose and the work we outline reflects this.

“The housing challenges in the West Midlands are as significant as they have ever been. House prices are eight times the average income, private rents continue to rise and there is a shortfall of at least 40,000 homes a year.

“Meanwhile homelessness continues to increase, welfare changes have put increasing pressure on people living in our communities and employment levels continue to be a serious issue.

“The impact of coronavirus on the people in our communities has been far-reaching and we will play a role in supporting people through this unprecedented and ongoing challenge. We also need to keep track of how this situation develops and be agile enough to adjust the plans we set out here if we need to.

“All of this presents a challenge for housing associations, but we believe it also presents a significant opportunity.

“As an anchor institution in the West Midlands, we believe in our role to help our communities and the people in them to thrive.

“Our strategy reflects the fact that we want to do so much more than provide homes; we want to provide homes that are a foundation for life.”

Find out more about our strategy on our Our goals page.

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