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Welsh Housing Awards 2017

And the winner is…

The winners of the Welsh Housing Awards 2017 were announced at the end of November. WHQ looks at the organisations, projects and people who were honoured at the awards ceremony in Cardiff.

CIH members’ choice award

New homes team, Monmouthshire Housing Association

On analysing tenancy sustainment, Monmouthshire Housing Association (MHA) recognised that starter tenants were disproportionately more likely to be in arrears, struggle with tenancy responsibilities and end tenancies in an unplanned way. This was inefficient for MHA, traumatic for tenants and had serious consequences for their partners. A dramatic and dynamic approach was considered to be the cost effective solution.

MHA ditched its old void standard and introduced a sector-leading one, on the basis of spend to save, whilst nailing customer satisfaction. MHA believes it has the highest re-let standards in Wales if not the UK, including a full decoration in all properties and carpets in apartments. Out with the old and in with the new homes team – in May 2016 providing a transformed starter tenant service.

Since October 2016 dedicated new homes officers deliver the new starter housing management service, from pre-tenancy to the nine-month visit; only when tenancies become assured do tenants move to the organisation’s income and neighbourhood teams.

Relationships are key for new homes officers who carry a maximum 100 tenancy caseload, giving them capacity to spend in-depth time with tenants, jointly finding solutions to issues and difficulties, such as Universal Credit, and learning to manage their new home.

Housing champion award

Sponsored by Merthyr Valleys Homes

Hannah Jinks, hostel services officer, Cardiff Council

Shortlisted (and commended on the night):

  • Janet Mulcock, voluntary board member, Rhondda Housing Association
  • Sue Carleton, voluntary board member, Taff Housing Association
  • Annie Woods, neighbourhood housing officer, Gwalia (Pobl Group)

Hannah was nominated for her commitment, dedication and enthusiasm in improving the wellbeing service that Ty Tresillian offers to people in housing need (including rough sleepers) in Cardiff.

Her desire to improve wellbeing within homelessness services saw her carry out some research to nd gaps within provision. This identi ed access to eye health services as a particular problem and she contacted RNIB and Specsavers to see if anything could be done. Through partnership working and lots of organisation she arranged for a Specsavers mobile unit to set up a surgery held within the hostel for those in housing need.

She has arranged for other services to come in and deliver services, such as a local hairdresser, and often runs classes such as gardening and cooking to provide opportunities to residents.

Building safer communities award

Sponsored by The Noise App

Stronger families safer communities – Charter Housing (Pobl Group)

A specialist young people and families team works with people to increase awareness and knowledge on how to positively impact their own lives, by establishing strategies and developing skills for life.

The team works with vulnerable people, many of whom may have experienced domestic abuse, adverse childhood experiences, substance misuse or been victims or perpetrators of anti-social behaviour. The wellbeing of people is central to the approach, building projects organically and adapting to meet changing demands in a community, encouraging a sense of belonging and connection to others. The team aims to address specific problems and support people by removing barriers to engagement, providing appropriate services early, before a crisis is reached.

Project highlights include:

  • OK Kids – A parenting project that originated from neighbour complaints of very young children out on the streets late into the evening unsupervised.
  • Karma Kids group workshops – These centre around health, wellbeing and mindfulness, learning skills together as a family.
  • Growing Together – A partnership with Gingerbread, which focuses on the personal and social development of young single parents aged 14-25 in all areas of their life, of which parenting is just one.
  • Brothers – A project that works with young men aged 15-25 building confidence, resilience, tackling issues such as domestic abuse, mental health and inequality.

Campaigns, communications and publications award

Sponsored by Joy Unlimited and Keith Edwards Consultancy

BIG day out – Cartrefi Conwy

The BIG day out is Cartrefi Conwy’s annual tenant fun day. But it is much more than just a ‘fun’ day. The aim with over 1,000 tenants regarding key business objectives, but the tenants would never know it. Cartrefi Conwy works really hard to make sure tenants have an interactive, exciting, fun-filled day with their family whilst giving them valuable information to support them.

The event always includes fire breathers, acrobats, aerial acts, free runners, street dancers, stilt walkers, face painters, circus workshops, football and rugby sessions with high profile teams, wrestling, creepy crawlies, musical shows (previously featured Joe Woolford and Richard and Adam), lots of inflatable fun, climbing walls (the list goes on).

But in addition to all this ‘fun stuff’ the BIG day out always has a serious message and Cartrefi Conwy co-ordinates a range of interactions with tenants. Here are just a few examples:

  • A walk around the ‘house of horrors’ filled with dangerous objects that have been collected from tenants over the years to get people thinking about safety in their home.
  • A selfie facebook competition with famous people to encourage tenants to sign up to voices @cartrefi and have their say whilst increasing facebook followers.
  • Building a dream home out of scrap materials to promote Cartrefi Conwy’s new developments.
  • Treasure hunts to promote content insurance.
  • Candy floss give-aways to encourage tenants to take part in the tenant satisfaction survey.
  • Encouraging tenants to sign-up to the online portal through a photobooth competition.
  • ‘Messy’ art competition to promote gas safety.

Community focused contractor award

Sponsored by BRC

Building futures in Flintshire – Wates Residential with Flintshire County Council, Communities First, Futureworks Wales

Wates Residential was appointed by Flintshire County Council in 2015 as a strategic partner to deliver 500 much needed homes across the county by 2020, known as SHARP – Strategic Housing and Regeneration Programme. Working together the organisations co-produced a regeneration framework that not only set targets but also set up a whole monitoring and auditing regime focussing on regeneration to the economy, benefits to the community and contribution to education. Each month a report is produced detailing impact and outcomes to date, showing a Social Return on Investment.

Flintshire County Council entered into an agreement with Futureworks Wales, a community interest company, to introduce a shared apprentice academy’. The academy has maximised the creation of skilled jobs which is needed over the next five years to not only deliver the SHARP new build programme but also the WHQS refurbishment programmes. To date it has employed 11 apprentices.

The biggest success so far has been the Building Futures Programme. This innovative training programme was delivered in conjunction with Communities First. Some 11 local candidates were recruited through the Welsh Government’s ‘LIFT’ initiative. The programme provides jobseekers with practical construction skills trade sessions as well as CV and interview workshops with Wates and its supply chain partners. The candidates received a full set of personal protective equipment and were given the opportunity to take a CSCS test to help them in securing future training and work experience on building sites.

Customer excellence award

Sponsored by Morganstone

Mi-space (UK) Ltd working on behalf of Tai Tarian

In March 2017 Mi-space completed a four year Electrical Re-Wiring contract for Tai Tarian. The project was the second of two large-scale planned maintenance initiatives undertaken by Mi-space on behalf of Tai Tarian, the other project being a kitchen and bathroom renewal project. Both related to occupied homes which meant that the true success of the works would be gauged in terms of the ‘customer experience’.

Prior to commencement a series of workshops were undertaken so experiences and lessons learned from the kitchen and bathroom project could be implemented into the delivery model for the rewires project. Mi-space and Tai Tarian documented what was making the kitchen and bathroom contract a success as well as recording what aspects of the delivery of the project could be done better, resulting in a ‘customer-xxcellence’ focused quality plan which was used as the backbone for all aspects of the project from inception to completion.

The outcomes of this enhanced customer service approach during the rewires for Tai Tarian were high quantities of survey completions (90 per cent) as well as consistently high scores (99 per cent average for very good/good).

Empowering and involving communities award

Sponsored by United Living

Own 2 feet…living – Bron Afon Community Housing

Ty Cyfle is an innovative housing development supporting young people into independence with eight starter homes for those aged 16 to 24, with a Community Connection Hub on the ground floor providing, training, informal learning and ‘bite size’ employability programmes for residents and the local community.

It is ground breaking in that it is youth led, with solutions to prevent homelessness, and is based on co-operative principles. It promotes inclusion, responding to the needs of Torfaen’s young people.

Many young people’s tenancies, for various reasons, failed in the first year. The question was posed how can we break this cycle of failed tenancies? Who knows better than the young people themselves? They were very clear, they decided they wanted to develop a project that was a form of transitional housing, bridging the gap between 24-hour hostel support and fully independent living. It had to be sustainable and youth-led.

Ty Cyfle … Own 2 Feet Living … The extensive refurbishment of a derelict building was completed, designed by young people for young people. They developed tenancy agreements and policies – it was a true co-operative effort.

Increasing equality and diversity in housing award

Sponsored by Melin Homes

Gwent Gypsy and Traveller Service – Gwalia Care and Support (Pobl Group)

The Gwent Gypsy and Traveller Service employs two support workers who provide direct support and advice to gypsy and traveller communities, local authorities and key stakeholder groups in Newport, Torfaen and Blaenau Gwent. It is the only dedicated Gypsy and Traveller Service to be funded by Supporting People and provided by a housing association in Wales.

The service continues to evolve based on the needs of the community evidenced through research, consultation and ongoing outcome monitoring. Coproduction with the community is a key element of the service provision with the aim of building on the skills and knowledge within the community to create sustainable and culturally appropriate communities.

Support and advice is available to local authorities, key stakeholders and other organisations to ensure that they are meeting the needs of gypsies and travellers in line with legislation and guidance including Housing (Wales) Act 2014, Travelling to a Better Future and Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015.

New development award

Sponsored by Blake Morgan

Loftus Garden Village – Lovell with Pobl Group and Newport City Homes

Loftus Garden Village is a scheme delivering 250 new homes which fully blends social, intermediate/market rent, homes for sale and shared ownership.

Pobl had an ambitious vision to re-define what could be achieved on a derelict site in a challenging area of Newport and wanted ‘to create a place where people would aspire to live’. Lovell wanted to establish an environment where the community could flourish, placing as much emphasis on the external environment as the homes themselves. The extensive amount of landscaping has required Lovell to adopt an innovative, ethical approach to management and maintenance.

The team had to overcome long held local resistance around street connection to the new homes, and were passionate with their desire to achieve a legible housing layout that would benefit the entire community. They achieved this through extensive and carefully considered consultation with the local community and design considerations.

Pobl has reduced the substantial waiting list in Newport through this development by providing 60 per cent of the homes as affordable without any SHG to residents who originally would struggle to step on the property ladder.

New ideas and approaches award

Sponsored by Mi-Space

Outside in – preventing homelessness together – Charter Housing (Pobl Group) with Caerphilly County Borough Council Homelessness Team

This is a collaborative project between Charter Housing’s rents and financial solutions team and Caerphilly County Borough Council’s homelessness team. At its heart is early intervention to prevent homelessness caused through serious rent arrears. The strong relationship between teams at both organisations has meant that through early engagement and assessment Charter Housing is able to prevent evictions and safeguard tenancies.

The Housing (Wales) Act 2014 puts new duties on local authorities to carry out homeless prevention work. Previously contact was only made with the Caerphilly homelessness team by Charter Housing when an eviction (warrant) date was confirmed by the court.

Since March 2016, the new working arrangement has been activated where:

  • The Charter rents team is unable to engage with a tenant and are at the stage of entering a case into court for possession hearings
  • a previous suspended court (possession) order for rent arrears has been broken and the agreed payments have been missed by the tenant.

Charter Rents Team sends an email referral to the Caerphilly homelessness team. They immediately pick up the case and initiate contact via home visits, phone calls, post and email. They advise the tenant of how serious the situation is, how close they may be to becoming homeless, what this means and how they can help.

Using technology and promoting digital inclusion award

Sponsored by WHQ

Charter’s approach to digital communities – Charter Housing (Pobl Group) with local housing associations, Communities First, residents and funders


For Charter the journey to digitally inclusive communities has been a long one. Starting in 2005 trying to reduce social isolation in older tenants by encouraging them to go online, the organisation learned early that people need a reason to go online. For them to want to learn more than the basics they need to be motivated by interest.

By 2010, the growth of social media saw a gradual application of digital by default – applying for benefits, accessing news media and booking holidays online. This combined with the organisation’s move towards the modernisation of online services, meant tenants had to become digitally literate.

Charter appointed two digital communities staff to drive forward their digital inclusion target: to achieve the same percentage of Charter residents online as in the general population.

Working with other sectors award

Sponsored by Pobl

Closer to home – First Choice Housing Association

Working together to provide homes in place of residential care for people with challenging behaviour, Closer to Home (C2H) is a partnership between First Choice Housing Association, local authorities and Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board. The house provides an environment bespoke to the needs of the tenant and support partners to deliver positive behaviour support. This powerful combination has seen behaviours that challenge reduce dramatically.

People with challenging behaviour have often been housed out of county and away from their families due to the lack of suitable accommodation within the locality. The Closer to home partnership supports the Welsh Government’s Wellbeing of Future Generations and Social Services and Wellbeing Acts aims as it provides a joined-up, long-term multi agency solution to improving the quality of life for people with complex support and health care needs.

People are accommodated in the areas they grew up and can integrate properly into a community which has huge benefits for them and their families. The model has seen incredible results which have given tenants independence and security of tenure. The partnership has successfully demonstrated that living in an ‘ordinary house in an ordinary street’ with the appropriate support can deliver significant outcomes for people with complex health needs and challenging behaviour.


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