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Issue 13 - Autumn 09


posh - Autumn 09


Opening gambit..

3 4 5 6 7 8 9-12 13 14 15 16-17 18 19

The Front Cover Story

Joy Kingsbury Interview A word from the C Ex

Community Involvement

Stimulating Conversation Charities for Charity In Focus Hill Watch In Support of SP SP in Action BOOT FAQs NIFHA’s Members Contact details NIFHA 38 Hill Street Belfast BT1 2LB T: 028 9023 0446 F: 028 9023 8057 E: W: © NIFHA 2009

Please note: the views expressed in this magazine are not necessarily those of NIFHA. NIFHA cares about the environment – POSH is printed in Northern Ireland using paper with at least 50% recycled content from sustainable managed forests. When you are finished with it please ensure POSH is sent for recycling to help reduce the amount of waste that goes to landfill. Thank you.

It hardly seems three months since I was elected NIFHA Chair. This is really my first opportunity to speak to everyone since taking over the role from Frank Dunne. I haven’t had an opportunity to publicly thank Frank for his two years as Chair. So, with no risk of interruption, I will start by taking this chance to say thank you to him for his clear and robust leadership and for all the hard work he put into the role making my task significantly easier. I have been involved in the Voluntary Housing Movement for a long time, but SHAC Housing Association is not a typical association. Therefore, I am keen to get out and about to meet as many association representatives as possible. I want to learn more about our members’ activities and concerns so I can properly represent the whole movement. Please feel free to contact me directly or through NIFHA’s online message board. Send me information about what you are doing and, in particular,

what you need and want NIFHA to do for you. I would be delighted to visit you, listen to and talk with your staff, or Management Committees, if you would like to invite me. We are living in a time of massive change and increasing uncertainty. All associations are feeling the strain of these changes. However, I am confident that, given the opportunity, our Movement will deliver all that is needed. One of my priorities is to work to remove impediments and barriers. I want to make sure everyone realises the Movement’s enthusiasm and capacity for the challenge of providing excellent, affordable and secure homes in stable sustainable communities.

Ray Cashell NIFHA Chair

Please note: If you would like to register your interest in becoming a Committee or Board member for a Housing Association, contact NIFHA for an application pack on 028 9023 0446 Email: or go online to and click into NIFHA Governance.

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POSH’s Front Cover Story For the Community; By the Community Pictured on the front cover of POSH are residents of Sliabh Dubh presenting representatives of FOLD with their new Action Plan. Sliabh Dubh is a large area of social housing which FOLD developed on the Springfield Road in West Belfast. It falls within ‘Whiterock 2’ an area characterised by acute deprivation. Over the last few months the residents developed an Action Plan which identified what the community believe are the issues which need to be addressed in order to: • build capacity and social cohesion within the community; • ensure the community has access to appropriate and effective services; and • prevent any future community problems developing. The three year Community Plan has 90 action points for nine identified target areas. The Residents’ Association plans to use a traffic light system of red, through to amber and then green, when the objectives have been achieved, to monitor progress against planned action. On presenting the published Plan, Margaret Hyland Chairperson of the Residents’ Association commented: “We are very proud to be the first housing association residents group to have

Members of Sliabh Dubh Residents’ Association.

developed a three year Community Action Plan. We believe it will benefit the lives of our whole community. We look forward to working on it with all the statutory agencies in the area, Belfast City Council and FOLD”. FOLD has supported the Community Action Plan from the outset. It is committed to helping residents with implementing all of the actions. When representatives of the community recently presented their plan to FOLD’s Board they were congratulated on their significant achievement. Eileen Patterson, Director of Housing at FOLD, was impressed with the enthusiasm the residents’ committee has shown and their commitment to improving the quality of life for everyone living in the Sliabh Dubh area. She went on to say: “FOLD is looking forward to continuing to work in partnership with all of our residents to ensure the communities we build are communities people are proud of.”

Advertising Promotion



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An interview with… Joy Kingsbury Just before she left Mendip, Joy Kingsbury shared with us her thoughts on sheltered housing in England and the initiatives from Mendip. What is the current status of sheltered housing in England? Since the separation of funding for support from housing benefit six years ago it has seen major changes. This money is now administered by the Supporting People agency. Inspection of services showed the quality of service provision and accommodation varied dramatically across the country. There is no co-ordinated approach to this change although the most common change is removal of resident wardens. What are the main threats and opportunities for sheltered housing in England? The main threat, I believe, is the traditional model of service will be unpopular and unsustainable with future generations. However, it is a model current tenants are used to and fight to retain. There is a need to move forward with a new approach capturing the best of sheltered housing and adding to it. This is not helped by the inappropriate way some services have been removed from vulnerable people. Outline Mendip’s initiative the ‘Hub and Spoke’ approach? Mendip Housing merged all support services to help locally based teams deliver services to individuals in their own homes. These are provided to tenants and non tenants. For sheltered housing tenants there is a banded level of support. Individuals receive the support appropriate for them. This may be very little contact, for example, a phone call once a month or fairly intense support of three hours a week. The needs assessment identifies what level is required along with the purpose and expected outcomes for the support. We have an activity co-ordinator in each team whose role is to identify need in each area.

They facilitate group activities to meet this need. For example groups have held healthy eating classes, falls classes and friendship groups. Joy Kingsbury, former Director of Housing and Care, Mendip

Why did it come about? The traditional service had many negatives and needed to be reviewed. We started with a tenants’ workshop and then, over a year, held a long and detailed process of tenant consultation to shape a pilot model of service delivery. What have been the positives and negatives so far? Some tenants do miss having a member of staff living on the scheme. This is usually a perception reason. They feel having someone there protects them from crime and illness. We understand this and are working to reduce fear of crime. We also promote our assistive technology to ensure tenants who need help can get it 24 hours a day. We’ve seen tenant satisfaction rise from 88% to 93%. On the whole tenants report enjoying a more active and varied method of support. They like the focus on their individual needs. Activities are popular. One of the most successful is our annual ‘Inter-scheme Olympics’. It runs over six months and encourages tenants to meet each other and participate in individual or team events including darts and drawing. Void levels have reduced and we decommissioned inappropriate stock. Tenants supported this move as properties were often let to those with severe mental health issues because they were inappropriate for frail elderly people. They can now be sensitively let to individuals without support needs.

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A word from the C Ex...

Rocket Science? Chris Williamson, NIFHA Chief Executive

The policy is simple and well established – instead of confining people with a learning disability to specialised hospitals for years, or decades, we should provide enough support to enable them to live in the community in homes that are as ordinary as possible. They will then be able to make choices, develop their abilities and generally live fuller lives. This part of community care policy has operated in Northern Ireland for over twenty years and also applies to people who no longer need to stay in psychiatric hospitals. Housing associations and their Joint Management Partners have played a leading role in community care and manage scores of excellent supported housing projects throughout Northern Ireland. Supported housing takes a variety of forms but always combines homely accommodation with services that help the resident live as independently as possible. The emphasis is on enabling the individual to do things for him/herself. So what’s the problem? Why are so many people who don’t need to be in our learning disability and psychiatric hospitals still there? In my opinion, by far the most serious problem is the ‘silo’ mentality plaguing public policy and finance. The programme to replace longterm hospital care by supported housing clearly involves two government departments – the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS) and the Department for Social Development (DSD).

When budgets are static, or shrinking, the more supported housing projects prioritised in the Social Housing Development Programme, the fewer general purpose homes DSD can afford to start. DHSSPS, on the other hand, can argue that the Investing for Health Strategy committed all government departments to contribute to the overall plan for health and social well-being. In addition, the Northern Ireland Executive recently accepted the principles (but not the financial implications) of the recommendations by the Bamford Report on learning disability and mental health services. While the Departments earnestly debate which one should pay for this or that aspect of the necessary services, people continue to live within the limitations of large, outdated institutions. How can this circle be squared? I suggest a compromise in which the two Departments agree to reserve an equal sum from their respective budgets and give a ‘Joint Funding Committee’ the power to recommend how the notional ‘joint fund’ should be used for supported housing schemes. Each Department should have equal voting power on the Committee. Perhaps this proposal is naïve and simplistic – but can you suggest a better solution? For the sake of those capable of resettlement from longstay hospital to the community, please share your idea(s)!

The programme of resettlement: •

makes heavy demands on DSD’s capital budget and the budget for housing support services; and

it generates substantial savings for DHSSPS.

For further information contact NIFHA’s Chief Executive, Chris Williamson. T: 028 9023 0446 E:



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Community Involvement The Fencing Challenge Taylor Court, Alpha’s sheltered housing on the Old Milltown Road, Belvoir Park, Belfast received a bit of a makeover recently. Thanks to the help of children from the local community co-ordinated by Belvoir and Milltown Action Group and K.A.D Community group from Carryduff the fencing surrounding the premises got a fresh lick of paint. Earlier this year the fencing, which had suffered The army of volunteers who helped paint badly at the hands of vandals and the weather, was Taylor Court’s fence. repaired. The NIHE donated enough paint, brushes and suitable protective equipment to complete the makeover. The army of volunteers (pictured) made short work of the job. The residents, staff and management of Taylor Court were delighted with the result. When commenting on this inter-generational work Alpha’s Chief Executive, Billy Graham, said: “We believe that if local children are encouraged to play an active part in community affairs then they are more likely to take pride in it and deter others from destroying it.”

Football Fantastic SHAC housing association held a 5-a side football competition recently at the Valley Leisure centre. The tournament was organised to help increase tenant participation and interaction between different SHAC schemes. Football proved a fun way to get tenants involved and meet users of the Ormeau Centre Men’s Hostel who came along to join in. Brothers, Chris and Ian Brown who are tenants at Whitehouse Court, Newtownabbey took part in the tournament. Chris said: “It was a great day, we were able to meet other tenants from different sites, and the football itself was great craic!!” Ian added: “The rain certainly did not dampen the day. I'm looking forward to the next time.” It was a round robin tournament but details of the overall winners were lost as everyone was having so much fun.

Michael Stuart, SHAC Housing Officer (pictured left of the banner) who organised the 5-aside tournament with some of those who participated.


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Stimulating Conversation We recently invited Clare McCarty, Clanmil Housing and Chris Alexander, Triangle HA, to share their thoughts on funding the movement …

Increasing Costs; Decreasing Options? “We’re finding that while interest rates are slightly lower, administration of the funding and the set up costs are significantly higher.” - Chris Alexander. He explained Triangle has found fewer banks or building societies willing to fund. In the past five or six could be approached but now it’s two or three who have money to lend. On a positive note there are new routes and funding for one off innovative projects to be tapped into. Clare explained Clanmil was helped by the European Investment Bank. She found they were keen to work in NI. “Although it’s European funds we got it through the Housing Finance Corporation (England). They came over as they wanted to work with our staff and see our regeneration schemes. They were genuinely interested and it was interesting to talk to them about what other associations they’ve worked with have done.”

Creating Certainty In Chris’ experience with supported housing schemes there is uncertainty at present over what is acceptable and who will pay for certain types of schemes that may require enhanced standards such as increased floor area and assistive technology. He understood an inter-departmental working group was established to look into these issues but associations have not received any feedback to date. Both agreed the lack of availability of revenue funding in the form of Supporting People and health trust funds was also causing significant delays in project development.

Innovation As public purse strings tighten Chris and Clare considered opportunities for associations bidding jointly on large scale sites. They agreed the procurement groups are well mixed in terms of size and interest so it might be an opportunity for groups to come together or even two housing associations from different procurement groups joining forces. Clare commented: “…in terms of bidding for funding, as well as developments, the more of us who come together the better the deal.” Being creative with the approach to home provision was essential. Clare mentioned “…leasehold is being looked at and considered.” They observed there are opportunities in terms of tenure, land-holding and land trusts - associations are open to ideas.

Conclusion In concluding both Clare and Chris clearly felt certainty on funding was essential – the movement needs assurance on parameters. Both are enthusiastic about developing not only homes but innovative services and creative ways of providing more with less.



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Charities for Charity Habinteg supports Action for Children NI Habinteg sees its charity work as a vital component in its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) commitments. Every two years, the Habinteg team adopts a charity. Recently, they voted to support Action for Children NI with a variety of fundraising and volunteering activities over the next two years. Action for Children NI’s aim is to help the most vulnerable children and young people in our society break through injustice, deprivation and inequality. They seemed a natural partner for Habinteg. Over the next two years the team at Habinteg will take part in a range of activities to raise funds for and awareness of this important cause. They have formed a staff Charity Committee to organise events and work closely with Action for Children to maximise opportunities. Fundraising is already underway with nearly £2,000 raised so far.

Abercorn Athletic celebrating victory at Habinteg’s annual Big Ethna Charity Football match this year.

Graham Murton, Deputy Chief Executive, commented “Habinteg recognises that it does not exist in isolation. The work we do affects the community around us and has an impact on the environment. CSR is a means of recognising this and taking a responsible attitude to ensure we create and maintain a positive relationship with the world around us.”

Good hearts at Triangle As part of their Health and Well-Being Strategy, Triangle challenged their staff to commit to physical fitness for British Heart Week. It is part of their wider commitment to Business in the Community’s Business Action on Health campaign. Triangle pledged £1,000 to the British Heart Foundation to encourage its employees to get active. The team responded with a variety of activities which raised over £1,800 for other charities including NI Hospice, Cancer Research UK, Macmillan Cancer Care and Fighting Blindness. Staff completed sponsored walks, climbed local mountains, ‘Raced for Life’, trekked Everest and competed in the Portrush Raft race!

The staff at Knocklayde House and Kiln’s Court with Gary Wilson from the British Heart Foundation.

Pictured above presenting Gary Wilson from the British Heart Foundation with Triangle’s donation is the team who put the best idea into action. The staff at Knocklayde House and Kiln’s Court not only got active but encouraged a number of tenants in their race for life.

PIPS Benefit The Public Initiative for the Prevention of Suicide and Self-harm (PIPS) has been the charity partner of Helm Housing for two years. During this time Helm’s ESV Committee, with the support of staff, family and friends, organised many fundraising events including two relay teams for the Belfast marathon, a Halloween Fancy Dress Ball, monthly "dress-down" days and card making. Recently the ESV team from Helm visited the PIPS Project’s new headquarters in Duncairn Gardens, to hand over a cheque for the money raised.

Representatives from Helm Housing’s Employer Supported Volunteering (ESV) Committee presenting their cheque to Sinead McIlvenna, PIPS’ Family Support Worker and Caroline Foster, Director of PIPS.

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In Focus …

Helm Housing

About Helm Housing

Key Statistics

Helm Housing (previously BIH Housing) is dedicated to the provision of affordable housing and associated support services. They develop and manage rented accommodation for single people, families, the elderly and various models of supported housing for people with special needs. Helm currently manages and maintains some 5,500 properties throughout Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

• Established: 1975

Its subsidiary company, Helm Developments, was established to complement activities by providing housing for sale as a source of income to help fund the provision of social housing.

Quality at Helm Helm Housing was the only organisation to achieve the NI Quality Award this year. It measures Northern Ireland's private, public and voluntary organisations against the globally recognised European Foundation for Quality Management (EFQM) Excellence Model and is the pinnacle in the Centre for Competitiveness, recognition scheme.

• Tenants: Approx 5,500 • Staff: 132 staff for NI and 10 in RoI • Accreditations: NI Quality Award, Charter Mark, Investors in People, ISO 2001, Centre for Housing & Support (CHS) Code of Practice

Innovative solutions in Bessbrook Helm Housing recently opened a £2.5m purposebuilt scheme in Bessbrook to provide supported living accommodation for 12 people with learning disabilities. They worked closely with the Southern Health and Social Care Trust, the Department for Social Development, the NI Housing Executive and the private sector to develop and fund the scheme at Ardaveen Park. After a long term stay in hospital some find settling back into independent housing extremely challenging. The scheme at Ardaveen Park aims to support them by offering high quality domestic style accommodation in the community.

Winners of these awards provide example and inspiration to private, public and voluntary sector organisations. To win its award Helm Housing had to demonstrate significant tangible and measurable results, which have impacted positively on their organisation's performance. These awards are unique in Northern Ireland. They provide a stepping stone to competing in the UK Business Excellence Awards and the European Quality Awards, which also use the internationally acclaimed Excellence Model.

Pictured (l-r) David Moore, Group Chairman, Helm Housing, Social Development Minister, Margaret Ritchie MLA, Jean Fulton, Group Chief Executive, Helm Housing, Edwin Graham, Non-Executive Director, Southern Health and Social Care Trust, Francis Rice, Director of Mental Health & Disability, Southern Health and Social Care Trust

Contact Helm

The First Minister Peter Robinson MLA, presenting Helm Housing’s Chief Executive, Jean Fulton, with the NI Quality Award


Helm House, 38-52 Lisburn Road, Belfast, BT9 6AA.

T: E: W:

028 9032 0485



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Viewpoint from Jean Fulton This year Helm Housing changed its name from BIH Housing Association. Would you explain the rationale behind this? We had outgrown the name BIH and needed an identity reflecting the organisation’s vision and ethos. Considerable time was spent developing the brand strategy and in February 2009, the Board decided to rebrand as Helm Housing and Helm Developments. We consider this name reflected some of our core values - leadership and security. The change has been well received in Northern Ireland (NI) and the Republic of Ireland (RoI). How is Helm Housing performing given the challenges facing the social housing sector? Our standards are high which resulted in Helm Housing being this year’s NI Quality Award winner. Financial constraints are impacting on the sector and change is ever present, with the formation of procurement groups for the delivery of new social housing. Helm Housing is one of eight members of Abacus Housing Consortium. The Department has approved the Abacus business plan. This is a welcome development. However, Supporting People funding presents problems and our Association, like many others, is carrying deficits on existing projects. Thankfully, we have funds to support these projects in the medium term. Lack of finance in RoI means leasing new housing units is the way forward. We have secured our first schemes increasing our stock by 50 per cent over a few months. We will soon have 1,000 tenants in RoI. What are Helm Housing's most significant achievements in the last year? Obviously I have to mention the NI Quality Award, but equally important, Helm Housing is set to meet its target of 100 per cent

of properties reaching the decent homes standard set by Government. This involved a comprehensive programme of repairs and improvements over the last five years.

Jean Fulton, Group Chief Executive, Helm Housing.

We also continue to provide new homes for some of the most vulnerable in society - Sundial House in Dublin for street drinkers and Ardaveen Manor in Bessbrook (supported living). Both schemes remind us why we do what we do each day. How could Government help Helm Housing and other housing associations do more to help ease the current housing shortage? In Northern Ireland housing has been dependent on capital receipts to create funding – this year we have seen just how market dependent this major area of public policy is. Discussion has taken place around the introduction of developer’s contribution and the Minister has called for housing funding to be on a more sound financial footing. Housing Associations, in tandem with DSD and developers, need to be innovative and flexible to create solutions that deliver much needed housing. Perhaps we can learn from the Republic of Ireland and look at short and long term leasing options. What is Helm Housing’s vision for the future? We will continue to provide quality accommodation through a range of tenure options. We are about building for communities and about creating places where people want to live.

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In Partnership with Marie Curie Helm Housing is the main sponsor of the Marie Curie Field of Hope Campaign for the next two years. During this time staff and tenants will be encouraged to organise a variety of fundraising events to raise as much money as they can for this worthwhile cause. This autumn some 50,000 daffodil bulbs Pictured at the launch of will be being planted in Helm's partnership with over 50 Helm Housing Marie Curie Cancer Care are Myrtle Cranston and Sheryl schemes across Campbell (in wheelbarrow!), Northern Ireland. They both members of Helm Housing's Employer will offer a symbol Supported Volunteering of hope to hundreds (ESV) Committee. of local people who are living with endof-life illnesses and who depend on Marie Curie Cancer Care for support for themselves and their families. “We are just delighted to have the support of Helm Housing and look forward to working in partnership with them.” commented Anne Hannan, of Marie Curie. She went on to say “They are such an enthusiastic group of people and will help us raise much needed funds for our work in Northern Ireland”. Helm Housing is committed to implementing its corporate social responsibility strategy. Charity partnership shows this in a practical way. It encourages and supports Helm employees to make a positive impact to the wider community through Employer Supported Volunteering. “Our work is not just about housing – it’s about homes and communities.” said Jean Fulton, of Helm Housing, “We are delighted to be partnering with Marie Curie Cancer Care and look forward to working with them closely over the next two years.”


Saving Energy and Helping the Planet The Environmental Action Team at Helm actively incorporates renewable energy initiatives into projects to reduce energy costs and produce savings for tenants. So what have they done? • All new Helm Housing properties will comply with Code for Sustainable Homes (Level 3). This year, five schemes in Newtownards, Dundonald, Belfast, Newry and Lisburn will achieve this level. • Large and smaller scale PV (photovoltaic) Solar Roofs have been installed at Abbotts Cross (Newtownabbey), Rathgill (Bangor) and Belfast’s Owenvale Court, Fairholme and Sloan Court. These roofs generate electricity for use within the building, with ‘excess’ being sold back to NIE Energy. • A new development in Main Street, Crumlin will feature innovative air source heat pumps which generate heat from the air and supply the building with heating and hot water. • 250 older properties have had roof space insulation upgraded with a further 100 scheduled for this year. • 400 properties have had Economy 7 and Solid Fuel heating systems replaced with high efficiency Gas boilers under the Cosy Homes Scheme • They switched from NIE Energy to Airtricity. 79 per cent of energy from Airtricity comes from renewable sources and produces lower energy costs. • They are working with McLaughlin & Harvey, QUB and UU in a national Technology Strategy Board £10m competition entitled “Retrofit for the Future Competition”. The competition invited proposals for suppliers to design and install new high performance solutions to dramatically improve the energy efficiency of houses. This is the only NI entry that made it through to the second round.


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A state-of-the-art development for older people Tucked away in the Sydenham area of East Belfast you’ll find Helm Housing’s new, state-of-the art, £4.25m social housing scheme for older people. Butterfield Lodge caters specifically for the over 55s, providing accommodation for 32 households and up to 94 people. A 30 threeperson, two-bedroom self contained flats and two 2-person two bedroom self-contained wheelchair apartments were built. For their design Helm Housing looked to the surrounding area and created one of an appropriate scale using materials sympathetic to the area. There are substantial grounds around the buildings which were landscaped to provide an attractive but secure environment for residents and enhance the local area. The apartments were built to a 'Secured by Design' standard - door, window and lock specifications are much higher than usual - in order to deter burglars. They also meet Eco Homes ‘Good’ rating criteria where ecologicallyfriendly materials are used in construction, with low-energy output from lighting.

Celebrating the opening of Butterfield Lodge are (front, sitting down) residents Trevor McIlwaine and Eileen Smyth and (back row) Helm Housing’s Evelyn Meharg (Housing Officer) and Claire Livingstone (Development Officer).

Continuous Improvement Promoting a safe and healthy working environment is central to Helm Housing. Consequently, they have made a commitment to gain the Occupational Health and Safety Assessment System Specification (OHSAS) certificate. OHSAS 18001 will provide a framework through which Helm can identify and control health and safety risks thereby reducing the potential for accidents and help them comply with legislation. It is being implemented as part of Helm’s risk management strategy. There are a set principles of action which will help Helm Housing reduce risks associated with employee, tenant and contractor’s health and safety. There are a variety of benefits to becoming OHSAS 18001 compliant. However, Helm’s firm commitment to ensure their employee, tenant and contractor’s health and safety is the driving force behind this move. Over the next six Charting continuous improvement month Helm’s team will ensure the appropriate systems are in place and being used before an audit is made to ensure all is in order and being followed. It will determine if the team will be awarded this important certificate.

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Hill Watch On tour with the Social Development Committee Chair NIFHA was delighted to arrange for Simon Hamilton MLA to visit a range of housing association schemes just before the end of the NI Assembly’s summer recess. As the new Chair of the Social Development Committee we were keen to ensure he had an opportunity to meet and chat with some of our members. We also wanted him to see at first hand the schemes provided by associations and meet those who live in them. During his tour the Strangford MLA met tenants and housing association representatives to discuss the challenges faced and successes experienced. After his visits Simon commented: “It was a pleasure to be able to see first hand the diverse range of homes that local Housing Associations are developing. The range of social housing developments that I was able to visit from a successful mixed tenure scheme to supported housing for some of the most vulnerable in our society like those in the early stages of dementia or the active elderly, as well as general needs housing, is genuinely impressive.” He went on to say: “What is also significant is the high quality of all of these schemes in terms of energy efficiency, modern heating systems and the almost universality of standards like Lifetime Homes, Secured by Design and ECO homes. Our registered housing associations are doing a terrific job in meeting a need for social housing and doing so in a way that we should all be proud of.” Keeping our MLAs up to date with the opportunities and challenges is a priority for NIFHA. More tours and engagement will take place over the next year. If you are an elected representative and you would like to visit a range of Housing Association schemes then please contact NIFHA T: 028 9023 0446 E:

Chris Williamson, NIFHA Chief Executive with Simon Hamilton, MLA

Simon Hamilton, MLA with Chris Williamson (NIFHA) and Gary Dugan of Newington HA

Dermot Leonard of Filor HA explaining the association’s developments on the Crumlin Road.

John Gartland of Ulidia HA showing Simon around the development at Windemere, Ballymacoss, Lisburn.

Gaining a rural perspective from Paddy McGurk (Rural HA) in Annaclone


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In support of Supporting People Ricky Rowledge, Director of Council for the Homeless (CHNI), puts her case for Supporting People‌ The Supporting People (SP) programme was introduced in 2003. It has had a profound and positive influence on the sustainability and quality of supported housing services in Northern Ireland. Initially it proved a challenge, but SP has created a climate of self-examination and continuous improvement. The programme encourages providers to scrutinise methods of service delivery, processes and procedures at every organisational level, across all functions and, significantly, the strategic relevance and need for their particular service. This has resulted in stronger, more viable and self-aware organisations, better able to meet the demands of a rapidly changing environment. The Quality Assessment Framework has been particularly beneficial. It ensures uniformity of practice and makes certain the needs and aspirations of service users are integral to shaping the type of service they receive. Until recently the programme’s budget in Northern Ireland has been adequate and secure. However in 2008 the budget was frozen. This has placed an acknowledged stress on existing recipients, whose access to other funding streams has also been depleted in the current economic climate. It also means the commissioning of any new services must be funded by savings from other SP services. Any further erosion of this budget would have considerable negative impact upon the ability of providers to meet their obligations and the outcomes for which they are funded. It will result in an undermining of the invaluable support to some of our most vulnerable citizens. CHNI believe the services provided through SP could not be replicated in any other Government programme nor be as cost effective to the public purse. Consequently we recommend the proposed cost benefit analysis of the SP programme be prioritised. We argue the focus should be on the benefits and/or savings to other programmes of social care and housing management.

CHNI’s Director, Ricky Rowledge

It is vital Northern Ireland does not follow the route taken in England where ring fencing of the budget was removed. When efficiency measures are demanded across Government and when it appears public service expenditure is under threat the removal of ring fencing may appear very attractive but the resulting unmet need and effect on the lives of very dependent people would be substantial. The Department for Social Development has understood and championed the protection of the budget. Any pressure to move from this position should be strenuously resisted. Finally, it is incumbent on the NI Housing Executive and the provider sector to work jointly to shape the future landscape of housing support services. An understanding of funding constraints must be balanced with an acknowledgement of the expertise and experience providers can bring to strategic planning. This type of constructive partnership should be promoted and vehicles strengthened or created to achieve this end. Supporting People has come a long way in six years and has the potential to further develop but only if we can actively pursue a common agenda and a single vision for the future.

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Supporting People in Action Support People is an important service for the Northern Ireland community. Much of the work goes unheralded. Below are just two examples of it in action‌

Developing Education In 2004 North and West secured European funding to provide essential skills training in their Supported Living schemes at Springwell House, Belfast and Strand Foyer, Derry. The funding helped North and West employ two Essential Skills Co-ordinators to provide training to service users at the schemes for four years. They delivered: Literacy and Numeracy; Communication and Application of Numbers; Basic Computer qualifications and Personal Development. This project provided high quality employment related training to a marginalised and disadvantaged group.

schemes which provide services to those with an alcohol addiction. The training programme at the four schemes includes: ICT; Personal Development; Essential Skills for literacy and communication. North and West’s vision is to extend this training further within its supported living schemes.

North and West recognised the benefits this training gave to service users. Despite funding ending in 2008, the management team agreed to continue providing what had become an essential part of the service within the schemes and sought to expand this opportunity to other Supported Living schemes. Since then the service has been extended to Foyle Valley House and The House in the Wells;

Dillon Court In Strabane there is a scheme, developed by Open Door, offering 24hr support for people from the area who need extra help to sustain their tenancies. Dillon Court has 38 self-contained flats, 30 offer permanent accommodation with the remaining eight used for those in temporary need who might stay for up to a year. Having temporary self contained accommodation is unique to Dillon Court. It works well as residents have the privacy to develop the skills necessary to cope more independently when they move on. The project aims to help people maintain an independent tenancy, to maximise their potential and to empower them to contribute to their community. It has become an important part of Strabane and is a community, within the community. Demand for its services is rising as more people recognise they do require support to sustain a tenancy.

Resident of Foyle Valley House, Stephanie Atkinson, with Danny Curran, from House in the Wells, receiving their certificates for word processing from John Keaveney.

Since opening the scheme has helped nearly 400 people. Many have been able to go on and hold more secure and stable accommodation living independently with floating support being given when needed.

A resident of Dillon Court, who has benefited from the services, with members of his family.



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Blowing Our Own Trumpet Harland Walk Located near the Bryson Street interface, Connswater Homes recently completed a £2m investment called Harland Walk. It includes nine 3-bedroom five person homes and eight 2-bedroom, three person homes as well as a 3-bedroom three person wheelchair bungalow. The new homes were designed and built to achieve ‘Very Good’ Eco-Homes rating, Lifetime Home Standards and Secured by Design accreditation. The scheme is the first new build project in NI to incorporate a decra-roofing system. At the time of design, this was the only Secured by Design roofing system of its kind.

Connswater Homes’ Harland Walk, Belfast

£2.2m scheme launched at Gowanvale Drive South Ulster HA recently welcomed Minister Ritchie to Phase 3 of their Gowanvale development in Banbridge. This phase of the ‘Shared Future’ Housing Scheme features 15 new homes built to Lifetime Homes standard and ‘Secured by Design’. As part of the association’s commitment to reducing carbon footprint, all properties will have natural gas central heating and solar panels. It is due to be completed end November 09.

Pictured with the Minister for Social Development, Margaret Ritchie MLA, from South Ulster HA are (back row) Jim Haslam and Stephen Doyle (Board Members), Sam Preston (Director) and front row John Hunter and Mary Simpson (Board Members, Mark Turner (Assistant Director).

£2.5m Avoca Court opened

Construction gets £8m boost

The former Lord Mayor of Belfast, Cllr Tom Hartley, officially opened Oaklee Housing’s Avoca Court, Upper Springfield Road. The development contributes enormously to the regeneration of the scenic and historic area of Belfast’s Springfield Road. Avoca Court provides 24 two-bedroom three-person ‘general needs’ apartments which were built to Lifetime Homes standard, Secured by Design and gained a ‘good’ ECO level for sustainable development.

Clanmil’s development at Seymour Street, close to Lisburn City Centre, was launched by Margaret Ritchie MLA. It will provide 48 three person, two bedroom apartments for people over 55 years of age and is due for completion in autumn 2010.

The former Lord Mayor of Belfast, Cllr Tom Hartley, pictured with (l-r) Oaklee’s Chief Executive Ian Elliott and board members Timothy Quin, Liam Deane and Jack Allen.

The development has secured 70 jobs for the NI construction industry and will be built for high energy efficiency. The scheme will include an underground car park, a courtyard garden and offer high security standards for tenants. Minister for Social Development, Margaret Ritchie MLA, cut the first sod at Clanmil’s new development in Lisburn. She was helped by Liam McKinney of Sean Devine Ltd and Clanmil Chief Executive, Clare McCarty.

posh - Autumn 09

Another first for NI Housing Associations As part of their modernisation and continuous improvement aims Belfast Community and Ballynafeigh are the first housing associations’ in Northern Ireland to implement a New Engineering Contract (NEC3). Their NEC3 will cover nearly 850 association properties for reactive, grounds maintenance and cleaning services under a “Term Service Contract”. NEC3 is an integrated set of contract documents designed to provide clients (eg: associations) and suppliers (eg: contractors and consultants) with project-focused outcomes. NEC3 is expected to be used more frequently to achieve associations’ objectives in terms of quality, performance, cost and time. The Office of Government Commerce endorses NEC3 and recommends its use on all public sector construction projects. It fully complies with the Principles of Achieving Excellence in Construction promoted by the NI Executive and is an internationally recognised suite of contracts. As the existing ‘Measured Term’ maintenance contract ends the associations will put NEC3 contracts in place and will also use it for all new build. Both associations recognise the introduction of NEC3 will result in higher administration costs but anticipate the overall savings to them will far outweigh these costs.

McQuiston Mews - a scheme for the active elderly set to benefit from the new NEC3 Term Service Contract

FOLD adds 155 homes to Belfast The first sods were recently turned on two new developments for FOLD. In the Greater Village area another 43 homes are being developed in Roden Street (phase 2). Meanwhile, Torrens Phase 3A in North Belfast will bring another 112 homes, to the area. It will regenerate a 2.37 hectare site which previously occupied two peace walls. The schemes will provide a range of family housing solutions meeting Lifetime Homes, Secured by Design and Eco Homes ‘Very Good’ or ‘Excellent’ standards. The Torrens development will include five homes specifically designed for families with complex needs and incorporate various energy saving features including solar panel water heating and heat recovery ventilation systems.

Margaret Ritchie MLA at the sod cutting for Roden St

Top Award for Clanmil Clanmil Housing triumphed at the recent Business in the Community Regional Recognition awards. They took first place in the ‘Workplace Health and Well-Being’ category. This prestigious award recognises Clanmil’s work in designing and delivering a comprehensive health and wellbeing programme, for its staff, and the wider community. The judges were particularly impressed by the association’s work to promote health and well-being through initiatives at its sheltered housing and housing with care schemes.

Pictured (l-r) Paul Bean of resource TM, Clanmil Housing’s Karen Gilmore and Jim Pow and Lorraine Milne of Westfield Health.



posh - Autumn 09

Frequently Asked Questions What is ‘Supporting People’? It is a government framework that plans, funds and monitors housing support services. These housing-related support services enable vulnerable people to live as independently as possible in the community. Support workers develop residents’ skills in essential everyday tasks such as household budgeting, healthy eating and domestic security. Supporting People is a versatile system which is not limited to particular properties, tenures or periods of time. ‘Floating support’ (described below) exemplifies its flexibility. What is Supported Housing? The distinguishing feature of supported housing is the emphasis placed on maximising the independence of each resident. Supported housing caters for the complete spectrum of client groups including people with a learning disability, those recovering from mental ill-health or homeless persons with complex needs. The accommodation can take a variety of forms ranging from self-contained houses to shared dwellings. What is Housing with Care? This is a type of supported housing offering personal care as well as housing support services for people who could not otherwise maintain an independent lifestyle. Appropriately trained personnel are available on-site. Each resident enjoys high-quality private accommodation with

their own bathroom. Individual kitchens are not provided because main meals are prepared by a catering service. What is Floating Support? This is an ‘outreach’ service that is not linked to specific accommodation. A support worker regularly visits individuals in their own homes until this support is no longer required. Then the support service ‘floats off’ to another person who needs it. What is Sheltered Housing? This term refers to a group of self-contained apartments or bungalows with design features and services that give older or disabled persons a sense of security while promoting their independence and involvement in community life. Sheltered accommodation is therefore located near important social facilities such as a Post Office, shops or public transport. Residents enjoy complete privacy in their own homes but they can call emergency assistance via a dedicated communication system staffed round the clock. Some sheltered housing developments (known as “Category 2” schemes) also have communal facilities such as a common room for social activities, a self-service laundry or a guest room. A Scheme Co-ordinator (who may be resident or nonresident) plays a vital role in helping residents stay active and well.

posh - Autumn 09

NIFHA’s Housing Association Members Housing Association

Contact No

Email Address


Abbeyfield UK (NI)

028 9036 5081


028 9078 7750

Ark Housing

028 9075 2310


028 9049 1569


Belfast Community

028 9046 3686


028 9074 2984


Clanmil Housing

028 9087 6000

Connswater Homes

028 9065 6155


028 9073 9868


Co-Ownership Housing

028 9032 7276


028 9076 8029

Dungannon & District

028 8772 2121


028 9035 1131



028 9059 2110


028 9042 8314



028 3751 8522


028 9077 3330

Habinteg (Ulster)

028 9042 7211


028 9053 0121

028 9032 0485


028 9074 4055


North & West

028 7126 3819


028 9044 1300

Open Door

028 9024 3785



028 8224 6118


028 9024 6811

South Ulster

028 3833 9795

St Matthew’s

028 9045 1070


Helm Housing

(formerly BIH)


028 2766 6880

Trinity Housing

028 9069 0250


028 9038 2288


028 9336 3558

Woodvale & Shankill

028 9074 1618


Bangor Provident Trust

028 9024 6602


Glenall Housing Co-operative

028 9031 1156



Habitat for Humanity NI

028 9024 3686


Intercomm Enterprises

028 9074 8355

The Abbeyfield Belfast Society

028 9038 1332



028 9087 1313

Ulster Provident

028 9031 1156



*These are members who provide housing but are not registered housing associations with DSD and therefore do not receive DSD funding

For full details of the accommodation and services offered by NIFHA’s members, please log onto and search the Housing Association Database




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11_POSH Issue 13_Autumn 09  

Issue 13 - Autumn 09

11_POSH Issue 13_Autumn 09  

Issue 13 - Autumn 09