Scheme to provide flats for homeless people in Hereford officially opens

Posted on August 31st, 2021 by Elaine Davies

Our White Cross scheme in Hereford has officially opened and customers have started to move in.

The 12-bedroom scheme, made up of eight rooms and four self-contained flats, will help to provide a home and support for people who have found themselves homeless or sleeping rough in Hereford.

The scheme is run by us and Herefordshire Council and provides the support homeless people may need such as help with tenancy sustainment.

Customers are referred to the facility by the council and can stay at the facility between six months and two years.

Head of Housing Support at Citizen Liz Carroll said: “We are really pleased to have opened this new scheme and we are working with Herefordshire Council to provide support here for people who were homeless.

“The people who move into White Cross often have high-level needs, are entrenched homeless, or have previously been living in hostels or doorways in Hereford.

“This type of accommodation is needed in Hereford to give people a chance to learn the skills to sustain their own tenancy.

“So far, we have four residents, and it is nice to see them spending time with each other in the communal areas and managing their own rooms.

“Here at Citizen we are committed to tackling homelessness in our communities through Housing First and we pleased this scheme supports this.”

The Housing First approach focuses on providing accommodation primarily to people and then adding other support.

Individuals are referred to the scheme by Herefordshire Council and are interviewed for a place at White Cross, which was created thanks to a £90,000 grant from Herefordshire Council.

Councillor Ange Tyler, Cabinet Member for Housing, Regulatory Services and Community Safety, said: “White Cross is a very important scheme which will provide transitional accommodation for people who need accommodation for anything between six months and two years. They will be given support to manage tenancies and will then be supported to move into more sustainable accommodation with housing associations, or private sector landlords after their stay is complete.

 

“This is an exciting partnership, and we very much look forward to working with Citizen to provide much needed accommodation to support the homeless in Herefordshire.”

When customers move into the facility, they are given their own fresh bed linen, pots and pans to use in the kitchen, and new donated clothes.

Stephen Turner has been living in the facility for a few weeks.

He said: “I used to live on the streets and so far, I’m really enjoying my time at White Cross. I love living here now.

“The staff have been so supportive, and it is feels good to have a roof over my head.”

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Art sessions held for customers in Worcester to reduce feelings of isolation

Posted on August 27th, 2021 by Elaine Davies

Art sessions are being held for customers living in Dickinson Court, Worcester, to improve mental health and reduce isolation.

Many customers living at the scheme struggle with their mental health.

To combat this, we partnered with a charity called Headway who supported our Neighbourhood team in securing funding to provide support with tenancy related matters.

Headway, who are a specialist brain injury charity, aim to improve life after brain injury by providing vital support and information services. Many customers living at Dickinson Court have suffered brain injuries or have other disabilities which means they need support to manage their tenancies.

Headway are now increasing the support they offer us by providing art sessions for customers.

Neighbourhood Team Leader Andrew Nembhard said: “We are really pleased to see our customers engaging with the art sessions that Headway have organised and that customers are benefiting from the classes.

“It’s fantastic to be partnering with Headway, we’ve been working on support for our schemes together since last May.

“Headway have been an exceptional support to the Neighbourhood team during all three lockdowns through helping customers who have struggled with their mental health and have experienced crisis.

“We hope our customers continue to enjoy the sessions held by Headway.”

Any customer who lives at Dickinson Court can take part in the sessions and various customers have attended the sessions.

Art therapist and teacher at Headway Suzie Wilkie said the class is a place for respect, no judgement and encouragement.

She said: “Citizen customers have felt isolated due to Covid and the art group is one way of bringing people together. Making art together is an excellent way for relaxing, getting to know each other and building confidence and connection with others.

“After speaking to customers, we decided we would like to do a pop art style portrait project to brighten the place up, and this is what we will be working on in the sessions.

“I am enjoying running this group. We are all positive and helpful to each other, so the atmosphere is great.”

The sessions will continue until September 7 and Suzie added that she hopes the residents will continue with their art after this date.

One of our customers added: “I haven’t painted before and I am actually really delighted with this.

“I was told at school that I shouldn’t do art, that I wasn’t any good, so I am really pleased with this. I am taking photos and have a following on social media who I can show how my work is developing each week.”

Customers currently meet every week for two hours to take part in the art sessions.

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Our show home at St Mary’s Place in Kidderminster officially opens

Posted on August 23rd, 2021 by Laura Pickett

The show home on our St Mary’s Place development in Kidderminster has officially opened!

The site is the largest Citizen and Signature New Homes site of mixed tenure.

Once completed, it will be made up of 49 shared ownership, 100 outright sale and 91 affordable rented homes.

To reflect its connection to the local area and to add history to the site, the development has been named after the local church – St Mary’s – and the house types which have been named after vicars in the local parish.

Our Head of Sales Annette Baskett said: “We’re so pleased to see our show home open at St Mary’s Place in Kidderminster, this is our flagship site for both Signature New Homes and Citizen.

“We wanted to add a bit of history and local connection to the development so we decided to name it after the local church in Kidderminster – many sites in the area are named after what Kiddermister is famous for, which is carpets, but we wanted to choose something different.

“This development is ideal for first time buyers and families and the Help to Buy scheme is also available on selected Signature properties.

“Our beautiful show home will highlight the quality of the build and the fixtures and fittings available to our buyers, it also helps customers to visualise what their new homes will look like when they are complete.”

Our beautiful show home will highlight the quality of the build and the fixtures and fittings available to our buyers

The properties for sale are a mixture of two, three- and four-bedroom homes and are priced from £198,500.

The team vicar of St Mary and All Saints, Father Simon Archer said: “St Mary and All Saints Church has held a special place in the life of Kidderminster for centuries – it is where all stages of the journey of life have been marked and celebrated.

“St Mary’s has been a central church for Kidderminster.  As the new homes of St Mary’s Place rise from the loss of past industry, we hope both church and homes will be signs of hope for the future.”

The first new homes will be ready to move into in November 2021 and the site is expected to be completed 2024.

The sales office is open by appointment only from Tuesday to Sunday, 10.30am to 3.30pm.

Contact the sales team to book an appointment by emailing sales@citizenhousing.org.uk

Find out more about St Mary’s Place.

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We receive Cyber Essentials certification

Posted on August 19th, 2021 by Laura Pickett

We’re pleased to announce that we’ve received IASME Cyber Essentials certification.

Cyber Essentials is a Government backed scheme which focuses on five important technical controls which are designed to guard against the most common internet based cyber security threats.

It allows organisations of all sizes to demonstrate their commitment to cyber security.

Our Information Security and Technology Manager Mike Platts says: “This is great news for Citizen in terms of cyber security!

“Cyber Essentials is the UK Government’s answer to a safer internet space for organisations of all sizes, across all sectors.

“It is considered essential for a more secure network and it protects those who achieve certification from 80% of the most basic cyber security breaches.

“We’re committed to preventing our systems and data from security breaches here at Citizen and gaining Cyber Essentials certification really helps us achieve this and shows our commitment to keeping our systems and our customers information safe.

Gaining Cyber Essentials certification really shows our commitment to keeping our systems and our customers information safe.

“Thank you to everyone in our ICT team who has worked with me to achieve this certification. Next year, we’ll be going for Cyber Essentials+ certification!”

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We’ve extended our employment support service to Birmingham and Coventry

Posted on August 13th, 2021 by Elaine Davies

We have launched an Employment Coaching Service in Coventry, Birmingham, and the surrounding areas to help our customers achieve their employment aspirations.

The Employment Coaching Service is part of the Money Advice service and supports customers with access to employment, education and training opportunities and helps them sustain their tenancies.

The service helps with:

 

The service launched on the 24 May 2021 and has already supported 45 people to date.

Our Employment Coach Beki Hay said: “I’m delighted to launch our new Employment Coaching Service in Coventry and Birmingham. I am currently supporting 25 customers at varying stages of their career journey and it’s great seeing them grow and develop in terms of their skills and confidence.

“I have supported our customers with CV writing, coaching for interviews, completing job applications, job searching, providing several foodbank vouchers and I recently successfully applied to the David Scott Trust for funding to allow one customer to access public transport to attend job interviews.

“It is a brilliant service and I’m building fantastic links through networking with other supporting agencies and service providers. This means I have been able to refer customers with multiple issues to receive appropriate support externally whilst I continue to work with them.

“We still have some spaces available to work with customers, so if anyone has a customer in need of employment support please do get in contact.”

To take part in the scheme, individuals must be a Citizen customer or live in a Citizen property (this includes shared ownership).

They must also have the right to work in the UK, be of working age, be looking for work/education or training, and they can’t be in employment, work, or training already.

Our Director of Housing Peter Gill added: “It’s fantastic that we have launched a new employment service to help customers in Birmingham, Coventry and the surrounding areas.

“It’s brilliant that we have been in touch with 45 people so far and we are looking forward to helping many more customers in the future!”

To find out more about the service, email: Citizen.moneyadvice@citizenhousing.org.uk or call us on 0300 790 6555.

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Our Communications Team is shortlisted for two team awards

Posted on August 12th, 2021 by Elaine Davies

Our Communications Team has been shortlisted for two prestigious awards.

The team has made the final of Best Public Sector or Not for Profit Team at the Institute of Internal Communications (IoIC) Awards, and the Sales, Communications and Marketing Team of the Year category at the Housing Heroes Awards.

The announcement follows our Gold award for Best Intranet at the Internal Communication and Engagement Awards last month.

The IoIC awards celebrate the best of the work communication professionals do and the Housing Heroes Awards celebrate the best teams in the housing sector.

Our Director of Communications Steve Hayes said: “This is great news for our team and for Citizen.

“The Communications Team has been on quite a journey over the last few years and everyone has worked extremely hard to get us to the level we are operating at now.

“The awards are recognition for a huge amount of work that has been delivered in that time. It is particularly satisfying to be recognised for the work we have done to engage our colleagues, which has been so important during a period of transformation and change.

“Our fingers are crossed for the ceremonies in September and whatever happens the team should be very proud.”

The Housing Heroes Awards take place on Tuesday 7 September at Emirates Old Trafford, Manchester. You can find out more about the awards and read the shortlist here.

The IoIC awards take place in London on Friday 24 September. You can find out more about the awards and read the shortlist here.

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Work starts on our Triton Road development in Nuneaton

Posted on August 11th, 2021 by Elaine Davies

Work has started on our Triton Road development in Nuneaton.

We are working with Seddon to build 29 affordable homes to help with local housing demand.

The £3.3m scheme will be a variety of housing types to create a thriving community for families and older people. It will be made up of six two-bedroom houses, 13 three-bedroom houses and a block of ten two-bedroom apartments.

Our Executive Director of Development Nick Byrne said: “We’re pleased to see work starting on the Triton Road site in Nuneaton and, once completed, it will provide much needed homes for people living in Nuneaton.

“It’s good to be working with Seddon again on a brownfield site in Nuneaton and we are looking forward to seeing the site progress.”

To lower residents’ energy bills the homes will have uPVC doors and windows, as well as fully insulated floors, walls, and lofts.

Business Unit Director at Seddon, Rob Moore, said: “Affordable rent homes are key if we are to empower people to feel truly part of their communities.

“Our customer-led approach to housing delivery is central to everything we do at Seddon. Triton Road embodies the successful relationship we’ve built with Citizen, an organsiation that is committed to rebalancing the issue of housing affordability across the West Midlands.

“This is a fantastically designed and well-situated development, which will transform disused brownfield land to create a real sense of place and community for residents.”

The development is located south of the town centre and is in close proximity to excellent community facilities, such as Pingles Leisure Park, Wembrook Community Centre, and several nurseries, primary schools, and secondary schools.

Work is due to be completed in summer 2022.

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We visit Totally Modular factory to see progress on extended modular home pilot

Posted on August 10th, 2021 by Elaine Davies

Officials have visited the Totally Modular Factory to see progress on our extended modular pilot.

The factory was visited by representatives including our Executive Director of Development Nick Byrne, our Director of Development Richard Whittaker, Assistant Director at Homes England Sharon Kelly and Coventry City Councillor David Welsh.

The scheme will provide 24 homes on eight former garage sites in Coventry.

We are working in partnership with Totally Modular, Homes England and Coventry City Council to deliver the development.

Work has been progressing well in the Totally Modular factory, and officials were able to see three of the bungalows at different build stages in production with the steel frame erected for one of the four bed homes.

The multi-million-pound project will see ex-garage sites regenerated into highly efficient family homes and bungalows at: Wedon Close, Bradney Green, Coleman Street, Fletchamstead Highway, Attoxhall Road, Capmartin Road, Shepherd Close and Thimbler Road.

Our Director of Development Nick Byrne said: “It’s brilliant to visit the Totally Modular factory and see the homes progressing.

“Following our initial small-scale pilot, where two homes were transported to Littlethorpe, we have decided to increase scale and work on a larger pilot. These will help to provide more homes in Coventry for our customers.

“We’re pleased the homes will be A rated meaning high energy efficiency and lower energy bills for customers.

“We look forward to seeing the homes progress over the next few months.”

The homes are being built in the Totally Modular factory in Cradley Heath, near Dudley, and will be transported across to the various sites in Coventry by lorry.

The homes will then be craned into place.

There are many benefits to modular housing including high energy efficiency and reduced fuel bills. The actual running costs for the Littlethorpe pilot are approximately £1.48 a day for a three-bedroom, five-person home.

Managing Director of Totally Modular John Connolly said: “It was great to welcome our partners Citizen, Coventry City Council and Homes England in witnessing the evolution of factory built, energy efficient affordable homes planned for delivery throughout Coventry, which could well be the biggest regeneration of garage sites throughout England.

“This pioneering delivery can solve so many issues in support of the ‘A Rated’ new housing being brought forward for the citizens of Coventry where blight, anti-social behaviour can be eradicated within the community and a sense of pride can be realised by all stakeholders.”

The development has been part funded by Homes England and we will promote the bungalows to those who need to downsize their home.

Assistant Director Affordable Housing at Homes England Sharon Kenny said: “Providing good quality homes in the communities where they’re most needed can present significant challenges, so it’s great that our Affordable Housing Programme can support a zero carbon project that’s providing creative, people-focused solutions to housing need.”

Councillor David Welsh from Coventry City Council said: “We saw the success of the first pilot scheme at Littlethorpe in Willenhall and I’m delighted that we will now see a further 24 homes at eight garage sites in Coventry.

“The system used, which means homes are transported into place is fascinating and is an important part of our strategy of tackling the housing shortage in Coventry and helping provide future homes for our younger people, and address homelessness.

 

“Modular is an efficient way of bringing brownfield sites back into use. It’s great to see the way the homes are put together before being moved into their final resting place on brownfield sites across Coventry.”

The developments are due to be completed early next year.

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‘We will wear the kit with pride and play football the way my boys strived to’ – BRS United play their first match in Citizen kit

Posted on August 9th, 2021 by Elaine Davies

We’re delighted to reveal the kit that Citizen has sponsored as our Neighbourhood Warden George Swain set up a football team in memory of his sons.

Ben and Reece Swain both died at the ages of 27 and 25 respectively from an incredibly rare condition called Cystinosis – a genetic disease which causes crystals to form in the body.

George set up a JustGiving page to cover the costs of setting up Ben Reece Swain United which raised £865 and we agreed kit sponsorship of £650.

On Saturday, the team played in their Citizen kit for the first time.

George said: “Being able to set up the team and secure kit sponsorship has meant the world to me, my family and everyone involved with the team.

“We are so thrilled to finally have a football team playing in memory of Ben and Reece – doing what both boys loved. It’s amazing!

“We will all wear the kit with pride and will play the game in the way the boys strived to do with passion and respect.”

The team played against Bluepool Football Club at the New Irish Centre in Birmingham and won 8 – 2.

Goals were scored by Nathan Hancock, Gordon Swain, Matt Albutt and Jordan Conway.

The condition which Ben and Reece had is incredibly rare, with only two or three cases diagnosed in the UK every year – and George says his family is the only one in the world with three people who have the condition. George’s daughter Bettie has also been diagnosed with cystinosis.

Both Ben and Reece were avid fans of Liverpool FC, which is why George set up the football team in their name.

Our Director of Communications Steve Hayes added: “We are so pleased to have helped George set up this team in memory of his sons and we hope they have a successful season!”

George has recruited all the players for the team which will compete in the Birmingham and District League in Division Five this season.

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