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Orbit Heart of England’s approach to community investment

Creating thriving communities Orbit Heart of England’s ambition is to build brighter futures for customers and communities. To make this a reality we invest £1 million annually into initiatives that make a real difference to our customers and the communities where they live. Our investment priorities are: Employment and skills – supporting people into work Money management – supporting financial skills and access to affordable credit Young people – providing positive opportunities and improving the well-being of young people Empowering customers to live independently Here are some examples of community investment initiatives that are helping create brighter futures.  

Employment and skills With welfare reform affecting the household income of our customers it is becoming ever more important for our customers to access sustainable employment. Our Employment Officers provide one-to-one support to customers to help them gain the confidence and employment skills that enable them to achieve their work ambitions. Our Northamptonshire Employment Officer provided advice and guidance to Orbit Heart of England customer, Tony:

“Since the events that changed my life I’ve strived to pick myself back up again. I have achieved so much - I now have a roof over my head, a full time job, pay the rent myself and have an excellent feeling of being in much better health than I was before. I couldn’t have done this without the support of Orbit’s Employment Officer.”

Money management Our Money Advice Team provides support and advice to build brighter financial futures for our customers and communities. We invest in key partners such as credit unions and Citizens Advice Bureaus that enable residents to increase their money management skills and manage their money more effectively. Our investment means more of our customers have access to affordable credit union loans and the financial confidence and knowledge to avoid a spiral of debt with high interest lenders. Rising fuel bills are a real concern for our customers. Our Energy Doctor service provides arranged visits to customers’ homes to help them reduce their energy bills: After a visit from the Energy Doctor, Mrs Phelps from Leamington received a £130 rebate from her energy supplier to help with her winter energy bills and she has switched to a new tariff that will save her around £150 a year. Mrs Phelps said: “I’m absolutely delighted with the visit, it was a great help and is reducing my energy bills.”

Young People With cuts to youth provision and high levels of youth unemployment we are committed to investing in brighter futures for young people. We invest in projects that provide positive activities to develop young people’s potential, improve their well-being and help them to gain the skills and confidence to enter further education and the work place. Our Brighter Futures funding has enabled Support Sport, a new social enterprise, to deliver a wide range of sports activities for young people in key Orbit Heart of England communities. Joe Graham from Support Sport said: “We have had a great response from young people, many of whom have now achieved Sports Leaders awards and are volunteering in their communities. Not only has Orbit Heart of England’s Brighter Futures funding enabled this to happen, but we have received ongoing support to make the project a great success.”

Empowering independence Our investment plays a vital role in helping people to live independently. Our funding enables our supported housing residents to gain the skills and confidence to move to their own homes and enter the work place. We also invest in projects such as telecare that empower older customers to have greater control over their health and well-being, enabling them to rely less on other interventions. Working in partnership with the Alzheimer’s Society andAge UK, Orbit Heart of England has set up a pioneering Memory Loss Café in Southam, Warwickshire. The café has become a vital social network providing support and information for people with memory loss and their carers in a friendly and welcoming environment. With over one in eight older people in Orbit Heart of England sheltered schemes living with some degree of memory loss, the café is proving very popular and is leading the way in rolling out the café model across the country. Gary Stanley from Alzheimer’s Society said: “People enjoy visiting the café because it makes them feel they are not alone and they and their carers can share experience of memory loss and dementia.”

Building on our successes Since our initial investment of £100,000 in 2009/10 we are now committed to investing £1 million every year to build brighter futures for our customers and to create thriving and empowered communities. Our achievements include: 85 people supported into sustainable employment since April 2011 75 people completed training or supported into further education since April 2011 2,500 young people have taken part in activities and well-being projects for young people since January 2010 13 credit unions supported to ensure all our residents have access to affordable credit 616 customers provided with financial advice, guidance and support through our Money Advice Team and Tenancy Support Workers between April and December 2012 Over 500 customers received grants totalling £70,000 from our Hardship Fund since April 2011 £437,257 of external funding secured since July 2010 to make our investment in communities go further In 2013/14 we are committed to: Creating 23 new apprenticeships Supporting more customers to get online through a two year digital inclusion project Expanding the one-to-one employment advice and guidance we provide to customers through additional Employment Officers Developing a financial capability e-learning tool on our website Piloting a new one-to-one financial capability programme for financially vulnerable new customers

Why we invest We know quality homes are not enough. We also need thriving and empowered communities. Our community investment priorities aim to help our customers to thrive and to create sustainable neighbourhoods where our residents want to live. This in turn helps us to: Reduce rent arrears Ensure our homes are easier to let Enable customers to sustain their tenancies Reduce anti-social behaviour Increase customer satisfaction with Orbit Heart of England as a quality landlord Build our reputation as a quality partner to work with

To find out more contact Orbit Heart of England’s Community Investment Team:

Simon Lieberman

Community Investment Manager 01789 404429

Helen Kendrick

Community Investment Officer 01789 404437 Phone: 0345 8 500 500 Orbit Heart of England, 10 Greenhill Street, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire CV37 6LG Website:

@OrbitHeart OrbitHeartofEngland Heart of England Housing Association Ltd (exempt charity) Registered office: 10 Greenhill Street, Stratford-upon-Avon, CV37 6LG Homes and Communities Agency. Registration Number L4526

Brighter Futures  

This leaflet contains the details of our Brighter Futures Community Investment funding