Worthy of merit
They set an example that everyone in the sector can take inspiration from. Meet the winners of this year’s National Federation of ALMOs Awards.
This is a landmark year for arm’s-length management organisations and, at last week’s National Federation of ALMOs Awards, teams and individuals from across England celebrated their sector’s first decade.
Now in their sixth year, the awards are an opportunity to recognise its successes. Held at Manchester’s Midland Hotel as part of the NFA’s annual two-day conference, the awards are designed to honour those who have dedicated time, resources and enthusiasm to improving the lives of their neighbours and communities.
Although the ALMO sector has seen a lot of change recently, one thing that definitely hasn’t changed is the quality and diversity of award entries. There were more than 100 entries from the tenants and residents, board members and officers, all hoping to be named a winner in one of the eight categories.
This year’s judging panel included Sue Roberts, chair of the NFA, Michael Gelling, chair of the Tenants’ and Residents’ Organisations of England; Michelle Reid, chief executive of the Tenant Participation Advisory Service; and Stuart Macdonald, editor of Inside Housing.
‘I feel very proud and privileged to be part of a sector whose residents, members and staff continue to develop and deliver innovative, fresh and exciting ideas to improve services and to make lives and neighbourhoods better,’ says Ms Roberts.
‘2012 has seen some of the most significant changes to council housing for 30 years, but, despite the challenges facing the sector, this year’s entries showed once more that so much exceptional, inspiring and sterling work is being done by ALMOs.’
Best Community Initiative
Making differences count, Salix Homes
‘Making differences count’ brings together residents from communities that may not easily be heard in Salford. The initiative promotes the view that, to truly tackle equality and diversity issues and remove barriers, communities need to be at the heart of driving it forward.
Two key aspects of the project are a protocol and training programme developed and delivered by a customer disability focus group, and a film made by residents to celebrate diversity and stamp out stereotypes.
Both have been a success, with the disability focus group being asked to provide training to national service providers and the film bringing together residents from different backgrounds, receiving national acclaim for its honesty and impact.
Most Outstanding Young Person
Charlotte Boardman, Salix Homes
When Charlotte Boardman, now 22, responded to a letter looking for tenants to take part in 10,880-home arm’s-length management organisation Salix Homes’ mystery shopping initiative in May last year, she didn’t realise it would lead to her becoming an inspirational figure in giving young people a voice within their community.
In the wake of last summer’s riots Ms Boardman set up a youth film group to dispel the stereotypes of young people in Salford. She’s also created a recipe book of affordable meals to raise money for Help for Heroes.
Ms Boardman is now working with Salix Homes to develop a Youth Bursary, which will help young people from central Salford to fund education and training. She is also setting up the Salix Homes youth senate, which will run alongside the organisation’s tenant scrutiny body, the customer senate.
ALMO Team Member of the Year
Wilson Severn, Wolverhampton Homes
Contract manager Wilson Severn oversees all works carried out under the decent homes programme at 23,210-home Wolverhampton Homes, and, while doing so, has acted as a mentor, providing support and guidance to other members of staff.
Mr Severn has set up two successful programmes, ‘introduction to construction’, working with Bilston-based Heantun Housing, and ‘decent homes aftercare’.
The programmes recruit and train school leavers, students and individuals who are not in education, employment or training from across Wolverhampton. The aim is to help them build up work experience they may not gain elsewhere.
Mr Severn’s latest initiative is the ‘Heath Town painting project’, in which five long-term unemployed tenants are being trained to become painters and decorators.
The six-month project will lead to participants learning transferrable skills, earning a wage and improving the condition of their estate through external decorating.
Most Outstanding Resident
Marie Froggatt, CityWest Homes
Marie Froggatt has been a resident with CityWest for 20 years and has been an inspiration in standing up for her neighbours and taking action against extreme anti-social behaviour in her building. Working closely with the police and 21,282-home CityWest Homes, Ms Froggatt was the only resident - out of more than 100 that live in her building - to give evidence in court. It was a courageous stand, which the police advised was crucial in the successful removal of the problem tenant.
Ms Froggatt cares about her community and gets involved in many other ways. She looks after some of the more vulnerable tenants on her estate and keeps the staff in the estate office informed about what’s going on in the neighbourhood.
She also participates in ‘leap into action days’, where a group of volunteers clean or tidy a part of the estate.
Most Effective Partnership
Act Family, Stockport Homes
The Act Family team was formed in July last year for services in Stockport to work together to help families that need support.
The partnership between 11,911-home ALMO Stockport Homes, the police, Stockport Council’s parent support team, social care team, health, youth offending service, probation, and the welfare rights and education and skills teams, operates using a ‘key worker’ model.
This means there is one dedicated worker for each family. This single individual gets to know and fully understand the family’s situation, enabling support to be co-ordinated with all other agencies.
The team is currently working with 45 families who are experiencing the positive impact of the initiative on a daily basis. This partnership working means services are delivered faster and more consistently than ever before, with more children kept off the child protection register and out of the care system.
Best Use of Communication
Youth editorial board, Brent Housing Partnership
The youth editorial board is a project which gives young people the opportunity to get involved with Brent Housing Partnership to produce a quarterly youth magazine, Our Say.
Launched in January 2010, the project gives young people the ability to get their voices heard about local and national issues that affect them.
The young people meet on a monthly basis and work on producing the magazine, which reaches approximately 13,000 residents in Brent. Designed to give young people positive activities to participate in and a forum for engagement, the youth editorial board has now produced eight magazines and set up a Facebook page for discussion.
Two members of the youth editorial board are also part of Brent youth parliament, representing the views of both the board and of the 12,735-home Brent Housing Partnership’s younger residents.
Most Innovative Project
New Barracks Retrofit, Salix Homes
Following a visit from housing minister Grant Shapps in 2011, Salix Homes was announced as a trailblazer for the government’s flagship sustainable housing initiative, the green deal for social housing.
Salix Homes’ pilot retrofit scheme, the New Barracks estate, consists of 78 hard-to-heat Edwardian homes. Working closely with residents, the tenant management organisation, consultants ARUP and British Gas, Salix Homes began a programme of changing how energy is consumed on the estate. By collecting and collating residents’ fuel bills, the ALMO was able to produce its ‘measuring change’ report, which shows the environmental, social and economic benefits of the retrofit.
Results included a 47 per cent reduction in properties’ CO2 emissions and average savings of more than £300 a year on residents’ fuel bills.
Board Member of the Year
Joe Hayward, Berneslai Homes
Joe Hayward, Barnsley Council elected member and chair of Berneslai Homes’ human resources committee, is a true ambassador, promoting cohesion and integration for all of Barnsley’s communities.
Mr Hayward was the inspiration and initial contributor of Berneslai Homes’ young persons’ funding pot, which has now raised more than £23,000 to help 66 groups deliver projects for young people in the local area.
As chair of Berneslai Homes’ HR committee, Mr Hayward has supported the organisation through a lot of changes to improve service provision and efficiency. Mr Hayward is well-known and loved in the community, a regular attendee at all local events. He was instrumental in moving Berneslai Homes from a two-star to a three-star ALMO.