Join our new Customer Committee and earn up to £2.5k a year

Posted on November 12th, 2020 by Elaine Davies

We’ve launched a recruitment campaign for our new Customer Committee – giving customers the chance to shape our services and earn up to £2.5k a year.

We want the work that we do to match up to customer expectations and we’re launching a new Customer Committee to help us do this. Meetings for the new committee will be run online, meaning it can fit in around other commitments.

We are looking for passionate customers who want to make a difference and can help us to make sure the work we do matches the expectations of our customers.

Experience of working in a role like this isn’t necessary – we are looking for passion, determination and a willingness to help.

Our Director of Transformation Will Walker said: “It is fantastic to launch our recruitment campaign for the new customer committee.

“Our steering group has done brilliant work shaping what the new committee will look like and it is clear it will be a hugely important part of our work to improve our offer to our customers and make sure the voice of our customers is heard.

“Any customers who are interested in the role should take a look at our recruitment pack for more information and consider applying.”

Applications are open until 5pm on Monday 30 November.

Find out more and apply here.

 

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Solid financial position of Citizen confirmed by new rating

Posted on November 10th, 2020 by Elaine Davies

Citizen’s sound financial position has been confirmed in a high-profile rating.

Moody’s, a credit rating agency which currently rates 39 of the UK’s housing associations, confirmed our A2 rating – which we have held since being upgraded from an A3 rating in 2018.

The agency considers a range of factors in making its assessment including the stability of our income and status of our borrowing.

The A2 rating places us comfortably inside the top half of Moody’s rated housing associations in the UK and only a handful have a better rating than Citizen.

Moody’s said our rating reflected the fact most of our income comes from low-risk social housing lettings, our moderate levels of debt and our simplified governance and management structure.

Gary Booth, our Interim Chief Financial Officer, said: “We are pleased our A2 rating has been confirmed for the third successive year, which demonstrates our strong, long-term financial position.

“Against a challenging economic backdrop, it is reassuring to have a global credit rating agency confirm that our own financial position remains strong.

“This means that we can push forward with the ambitions set out in our 2020-23 business strategy and ultimately fulfil our purpose to provide homes that are a foundation for life for people across the West Midlands.”


You can read the full rating by Moody’s here.

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Our Development Trainees complete their two-year trainee programme

Posted on October 23rd, 2020 by Elaine Davies

Congratulations to our Development Trainees, Indy Panesar and Alex Mackness, who have completed our two-year development trainee programme and have now been appointed Project Managers.

Over the last two years, Indy and Alex have been rotating around different sections within our Development, Sales and Regeneration Team to gain as much experience as possible to build up the skills to enable them to manage their own projects.

They are also in their second and final year studying a Higher Apprenticeship in Construction Management at Wolverhampton University.

Indy said: “I feel really happy to have completed the programme. It certainly went quick! It means a lot to me – it’s the start of my career and I really want to excel as a Project Manager.

“Over the last six months the training has been intense yet rewarding. I was given the opportunity to work alongside colleagues and manage two schemes.

“Now I’m project managing a development of 66 homes in Leamington Spa and a small development of four homes in Worcester.

“I just want to say a big thank you to everyone in the Development Team who have helped me develop the skills I have today. It’s been an amazing opportunity and I’m very grateful.”

Alex said: “I’ve achieved so much more than I set out to do two years ago. There is still a lot more to learn, but that’s the nature of the role, as there’s always change.

“It’s been more intense over the last six months as we were given our own schemes to manage. We dedicated more time on our projects and worked on our final assessments, where I delivered a presentation on improving energy efficiency within our new build homes.

“I’m now managing a small development in North Warwickshire and a couple in Coventry and a medium-sized development in Worcester which total 130 homes.

“A huge thank you to the whole Development Team for their dedicated support over the past two years, and to the Development Leadership Team for this incredible opportunity.”

Our Executive Director for Development Nick Byrne added: “On behalf of everyone in the Development, Sales and Regeneration Team I want to congratulate both Indy and Alex on completing the programme and being appointed Project Managers.

“It has been a pleasure having Indy and Alex in the team and I’ve enjoyed watching them grow in confidence as they’ve progressed through the programme.

“They’ve both been very dedicated and committed throughout and we’re very much looking forward to seeing them put all their hard work into practice as they manage their own projects from now on. Well done both!”

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Natalie Littlehales passes CIOB exams with a Distinction

Posted on October 21st, 2020 by Elaine Davies

Congratulations to our Development Project Manager Natalie Littlehales who has passed her exams with a Distinction to gain her Chartership with the Chartered Institute of Builders (CIOB).

Natalie has always wanted to gain a CIOB Chartership and with help from our organisation, she signed up for the course 12 months ago.

Being a member of CIOB demonstrates an on-going commitment to the industry, innovation, sustainability and the environment.

The course covers topics including managing health, safety and quality, implementing sustainable construction development, commercial development, strategic and financial management, professional judgement and responsibility.

Natalie said: “I’ve worked in Construction for 17 years now and I’ve always wanted to gain CIOB Chartership as it’s so significant in our sector and in our roles within development.

“I’m not going to sugar-coat it and say my exams were a breeze, as it was quite possibly the most stressful two weeks of my life! The work was hard, but I knew that was what I needed to do if I wanted the results. I was committed and determined to do it.

“Women remain under-represented in construction so being able to demonstrate my skills and knowledge and be recognised for it is a huge achievement for me.

“I’m now signed up to do the National Certificate in Construction Health and Safety. People have said to me I must be mad to put myself through it again, but I love my job and I am so passionate about what I do.

“A big thank you to my colleagues and to Citizen for supporting and believing in me.”

Our Executive Director for Development Nick Byrne added: “On behalf of all the Development team I want to congratulate Natalie on her well-deserved achievement.

“To gain a Distinction is fantastic, it’s great seeing all of Natalie’s dedication and hard work paying off.

“Good luck with your final written assignment Natalie and with your National Certificate in Construction Health and Safety. Well done for always making the most of every opportunity and always trying to be the best person you can be.”

Now Natalie has passed her CIOB exams, she needs to submit a written assessment of her experience, skills and competences to gain CIOB Chartership.

The assessment needs to be submitted by the end of this month and Natalie will find out her results by the end of this year.

Good luck Natalie!

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Shared ownership homes completed and to be handed over at our Little Moor Hill development

Posted on October 20th, 2020 by Elaine Davies

Our shared ownership homes at our Little Moor Hill development in Smethwick have been completed and will be handed over to our customers.

We have worked with TC Homes on the £3.8m development which started last year.

There are 22 homes at the site – 11 shared ownership and 11 affordable rent which were handed over in September.

Shared ownership homes are a great opportunity for people to get on the housing ladder.

It involves buying a share in a brand-new property on a part buy and part rent basis. Rent is then paid on the part the customer doesn’t own.

The homes are a mix of two- and three-bedroom properties and last year pupils from the Devonshire Junior Academy chose the road name for the development.

They named it Symphony Drive after Symphony Hall in Birmingham.

Our Director of Signature New Homes Michael Park said: “It’s fantastic to see the homes at Little Moor Hill completed and ready for customers to move into.

“The homes have been finished to a high standard and have been built in a well-connected area that is close to transport links and Birmingham city centre.

“I’m sure the purchasers will love living at this new development.”

Michael attended the site with representative from TC Homes.

Site Manager from TC Homes (Contracting) LTD Paul Bennett added: “It’s been brilliant working with Citizen on this site and we are pleased the site has been completed.

“We hope that customers who are moving into the homes at the site will enjoy living here and love their new homes.”

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Work has started to build 53 new homes in Coventry

Posted on October 12th, 2020 by Elaine Davies

Construction has started on 53 new homes across Coventry which will provide affordable housing in the city.

We are working with Seddon to deliver the homes on each site.

These include:

Work on all sites should have started in March 2020, however coronavirus restrictions and concerns around the health and safety of those on-site meant that groundwork was delayed until July 2020.

Over the last couple of months progress has been made to groundworks with bricks being laid on the first plots.

Our Executive Director of Development, Nick Byrne, said: “We’re pleased to see work starting at these three sites in Coventry despite an unusual start to the year with the outbreak of Covid 19.

“When completed the homes will provide affordable homes for people living in Coventry. We are looking forward to seeing these sites progress over the next year.”

Rob Moore, Business Unit Director at Seddon, added: “All three of these vital developments are part of the bigger picture for the regeneration of Coventry. It’s great to be part of three further projects in the Midlands that will truly benefit local people and the community.

“Our aim is to help Citizen achieve its goal to increase the supply of affordable homes in the Midlands. Despite a few initial delays, we’re powering on with works to the sites and we’re really pleased with the progress so far.”

All developments are due to be completed in summer 2021.

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Our 2019-20 annual report is now available!

Posted on October 8th, 2020 by Elaine Davies

Our 2019-20 annual report is now available to view.

The report profiles our performance and highlights everything we achieved in the year up to the end of March 2020.

Our Chief Executive, Kevin Rodgers, said: “We launch our annual report this year after celebrating our first year as Citizen. Becoming Citizen is the biggest change in our history which has paved the way for a transformation in the way that we work and provide our services.

“That transformation is far from complete, but within our annual report this year you will see that we have made significant progress as we strive to make the biggest and best impact we can on the lives of the people who live in our communities.

“When you read the stories and see some of the numbers you can see what a massive contribution we make in our communities.

“I hope you all enjoy reading about the progress we’ve made together.”

Read our 2019-20 annual report here.

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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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