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CIH Cymru sponsorship feature

Innovation, innovation, innovation!

CIH Cymru’s 2011 good practice compendium includes twenty five of the best housing projects and initiatives over the last twelve months; in this article, Vikki Hiscocks sets out some highlights.

The Welsh Housing Awards have become a key feature of the housing calendar, and the night itself goes from strength to strength with 450 people from across Wales coming together for a night of celebration in November each year.

The event is the culmination of a process to identify and recognise the very best in innovation and for the past two years CIH Cymru has produced a good practice compendium sponsored by Housemark Cymru. The compendium itself is based on the winner and runners up in seven categories drawn from over a hundred award entries.

Category – Empowering and Involving Communities

Winner – Charter Housing: Working for me

Working for Me is a truly innovative community project that helps people take control of their lives and shows them and others what some of the most excluded people in society can achieve. With funding from Charter, the Welsh Government and the SHARE Centre, it targets tenants who have most difficulty in getting and maintaining mainstream employment. The project works on the premise that everyone has a skill and that the best way for some people to earn an income is to turn that skill into self employment or a business so when and how they work is in their control. Confidence and motivation sessions help people think through what they are good at, what is achievable and examine opportunities. Business planning plays a vital role, ideas are tested vigorously so people only embark on ventures with a likelihood of success. There have been 13 new starts so far.

Contact – Bron Lloyd, Head of Community Regeneration, Charter Housing

Email – [email protected]

Tel – 01633 678546

Runners Up

WLGA in partnership with Newydd HA – Community Wellbeing Coaches

Contact – Maria Uren, Programme Manager for Health Improvement, WLGA

Email – [email protected]

Tel – 07800 994816

Gofal – Our Business

Contact – Alessa Hill, Employment Case Worker, Gofal

Email – [email protected]

Tel – 029 2045 3840

Cartrefi Conwy – Participatory Budgets

Contact – Linda Humphreys, Communications Assistant, Cartrefi Conwy

Email – [email protected]

Tel – 01492 805500

Valley To Coast Housing – W&M Enterprises

Contact – Steve Curry, Community Regeneration Manager Valleys

Email – [email protected]

Tel – 01656 762445


Category – Most Community Focussed Contractor

Winner – Quicksons: More than just paint and brushes

According to RCT homes, Quicksons consistently show that they care about their customers and our communities. They do this by recruiting 9 out of 10 of their workforce from the south Wales area. They listen to customers, many of whom are vulnerable or elderly. It’s the small things that matter to tenants, things like spending time to explain what they do and how it is really important. On many occasions Quicksons have adapted their work programme or schedule to the changing needs of RCT Homes’ tenants (regardless of the impact on themselves). A fabulous example of their commitment to RCT Homes’ Give and Gain days is that year-on-year, since 2010 they have donated £6,000 to these days, excluding their expertise!

Contact – Lisa Balfe, Policy Research Officer, RCT Homes

Tel – 01443 494589

Email – [email protected]

Runners Up

Wates Living Space – reshaping tomorrow

Contact – Carla White, Customer Liaison Manager, Wates Living Space

Tel – 07739 333473

Email – [email protected]

Cowlin Construction – At the heart of the community

Contact – Louise O\’Brien, PR & Communications Advisor, United Welsh

Tel – 029 2085 5659

Email – [email protected]


Category – Delivering Efficiency and Value for Money

Winner – Cardiff Community Housing Association: Cardiff Accessible Homes

Cardiff Accessible Homes (CAH) is a project managed by Cardiff Community Housing Association that provides physically disabled persons an holistic housing service which includes managing a central adapted property database, occupational therapist assessments, housing advice and support. This involves working in partnership with the local authority, several housing associations, agencies and voluntary organisations to find positive outcomes. As well as managing disabled re-housing in Cardiff, CAH also manage the referral process for Physical Adaptation Grants. This involves the project employing occupational therapists funded by partner housing associations and arranging visits and assessments. Since April 2009, CAH has been able to help over 800 clients remain in their home by providing necessary reports highlighting required adaptations. The service has led to significantly reduced waiting times for clients to have the required work, allowing them to remain in their homes longer in a safe and secure environment whilst reducing the risk of falls, slips and hospitalisation.

Contact – Robert Baker, Project Manager, Cardiff Accessible Homes

Tel – 029 2046 8408

Email – [email protected]

Runners Up

Valleys to Coast Housing – Welsh Water Debt advice company

Contact – Keryl Jones, V2C

Tel – 01239 712036/ 07968 428141

Email – [email protected]

Charter Housing – Prevention by Intervention

Contact – Scott Sanders, Director of Housing, Charter Housing Association

Tel – 01633 678556

Email – [email protected]


Category: Developing and Regenerating Communities

Winner – Merthyr Valleys Homes: partnership with British Gas Community Energy

Merthyr Valleys Homes’ tenants are benefiting from cheaper energy bills and improved aesthetics in their homes after energy efficiency measures were installed as part of a regeneration project. A £1 million investment from ARBED and £200,000 from the Low Carbon Building Programme funded the project which has meant that properties have had solar photovoltaic and thermal panels installed and external wall insulation fitted by British Gas and the Joyner Group. Planned improvement works such as roof line work and the renewal of rain water goods were also carried out as part of the external wall insulation. The project has not only benefitted tenants, but it has provided multiple work opportunities for local businesses and individuals. Suppliers, installers and trainees who were at the heart of the programme were sourced within a 15 miles radius from the site – a remarkable community achievement.

Contact – Ceri Williams, Energy Solutions Manager, British Gas Community Energy

Tel – 07769 546 224

Email – [email protected]

Runners Up

Carmarthenshire County Council – Building your own future in Sir Gar

Contact – Ray Symes, Senior Operational Officer, Property Services Division

Tel – 01554 784100

Email – [email protected]

Valleys to Coast – Diamond Jubilee – the refurbishment and local letting scheme of Jubilee Crescent

Contact – Julie Stewart, Housing Manager, Valleys to Coast Housing

Tel – 01656 762418

Email – [email protected]

Cymdeithas Tai Cantref – Local letting agreement in Tregaron

Contact – Lynne Sacale, Chief Executive, Cymdeithas Tai Cantref

Tel – 01239 712036

Email – [email protected]


Category – Making the Best Use of Stock

Winner – Newport City Homes: Woodside & Nightingale Court, Newport – Turning hard to lets into hard to gets

Newport City Homes (NCH) commissioned a project to tackle ‘hard to let’ issues in its largest sheltered scheme, Woodside and Nightingale Court. Despite winning a design award in the eighties, the scheme had become outdated and was no longer meeting the needs or aspirations of older people. This was evidenced by a significant number of voids and high refusal rates. To address this, NCH decided to combine WHQS works with a programme to convert bedsits into spacious ‘apartments’. Residents were fully involved in the planning and design process, culminating in a joint approach with design students and staff in creating ‘show homes’ for viewing. So, what were termed ‘hard to let’ have now become homes that are ‘hard to get’ and NCH has made the best use of its existing stock to meet the needs and aspirations of older people.

Contact – Joanna Fairley, Communications and Governance Manager, Newport City Homes

Tel – 01633 227644

Email – [email protected]

Runners Up

RCT Homes – Sheltered Housing Options Appraisal

Contact – Shirley Davies, Homes and Neighbourhoods Director, RCT Homes

Tel – 01443 494403

Email – [email protected]

Wales and West Housing Association – Stoneleigh Manor more options homelessness project

Contact – Jackie Bloxham, Housing Manager

Tel – 029 2041 4083

Email – [email protected]


Category – Developing Skills and Capacity

Winner – Bron Afon Community Housing: Learning Development Programme

Bron Afon has embedded a culture of learning and development. Employees, board and members, volunteers and young people are encouraged to embrace learning to develop their skills, knowledge, experience and confidence. Since stock transfer, they have developed many new and innovative ways to encourage learning and this has included:

  • leadership and management development programme for managers across the organisation
  • apprentice schemes, placements and work experience and training for all ages, which have lead to some permanent employment with Bron Afon
  • mentoring for students
  • OCN accredited Green Futures Programme with 90 staff, tenants, leaseholders and residents including growing food and sustainable design

Contact – Liz Evans, Head of Community Housing, Bron Afon

Tel – 01633 620026

Email – [email protected]

Runners Up

Flintshire County Council – customer learning and involvement programme

Contact – Debbie Davies, Customer Involvement Officer, Flintshire County Council

Tel – 07789 945403

Email – [email protected]

RCT Homes – ZIGGIES literacy project

Contact – Catryn Grundy, Tenant Empowerment Officer, RCT Homes

Tel – 01443 494403

Email – [email protected]


Category: Outstanding Leadership by a Local Authority

Winner – Powys County Council: loan rangers

Loan Rangers is a unique and highly adaptive interest-free loan scheme – tailored to local needs and individual strategies. Some of its key features are:

  • easily implemented – adapted from established grant application process
  • in-house administration & financial recovery – avoids costly FSA registered organisations
  • 50% maximum funding – includes 1st year payment ‘holiday’ to establish rental income
  • annual loan recovery over 5 years – allows accurate forecasting of finance & facilitates planning
  • virtually self-financing – 88% of capital recycled for re-distribution
  • pioneering and successful – Powys setting standards of collaborative working with partner organisations

The innovative way Powys Council has established this project ensures empty homes are brought back into use.

Contact – Ian Fraser, Housing Services Manager, Powys County Council

Tel – 01938 551214

Email – [email protected]

Runners Up

Flintshire County Council – securing gifted houses for our local communities

Contact – Penny Storr, Housing Strategy Officer, Flintshire County Council

Tel – 01352 703830

Email – [email protected]

Conwy County Borough Council with Cymdeithas Tai Clwyd: Ty Unnos

Contact – Sam Parry, Housing Strategy and Performance Manager

Tel – 01492 574224

Email – [email protected]

Rhondda Cynon Taff County Borough Council – Penywaun CESP area

Contact – Keryl Lanfear, Housing Strategy Officer Rhondda Cynon Taf CBC

Tel – 01443 425369

Email – [email protected]


Individual achievement

As well as celebrating good practice by communities and organisations, the Welsh Housing Awards also recognise the achievement of individuals. 2011 winners include:

  • Outstanding Academic Progress was awarded to Pauline Thomas of Rhondda Housing Association who greatly impressed the judges
  • Community Leader 2011 went to Wayne Carter of the Penrhys Partnership, a hugely respected and dynamic champion for his community
  • Housing Hero went to Cecilia Beale of Newport City Homes, a much loved and admired advocate for the residents of Newport
  • Outstanding Achievement in Housing went to Steve Long for his phenomenal contribution to CIH Cymru, the Rent Officer Service and Welsh Government over many years

For your copy of the 2011 Good Practice Compendium, contact: [email protected]


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