The poverty issue
Welcome to Issue 23 of the Greater Manchester Housing Providers anti-poverty newsletter, shining a light on the work we do to help reduce poverty and some of the projects and communities we work with. Our cover picture shows a new project run by Chesham Fold Tenants and Residents Group in Bury, more on page 18. Also in this issue we have contributions from;
Athena and Motiv8
Bolton at Home
Six Town Housing
First Choice Homes Oldham
Southway Housing Trust
Wythenshawe Community Housing
It’s great to be able to share all your stories on the work you’re doing to strengthen and support communities at a time when the sector faces accusations of having lost sight of our social purpose. While we all may articulate and demonstrate our social purpose in different ways, it all boils down to delivering services that are for the benefit of the community. The newsletter is full of some great examples of where we are stepping up to support our customers and communities where we are needed.
That leads us on to another hot topic, stigma, because sometimes the positive stories about social housing and the people that live in it can be lost and that can contribute to this feeling of stigma. That’s why several GMHP members are supporting the See The Person campaign which aims to end social housing stereotypes. I’ll be sharing more on this in future newsletters. Something else I hope to be able to bring you more on in future issues is work that is just about to start on our role in making a house a home on a low income, and which links to recommendations made by JRF in their House to Home report. The report suggests that
Social housing could be more effective in reducing poverty if basic decoration, flooring and the option of low-cost furniture packages were provided with it.
Social housing providers can respond to tenants needs by providing a higher void standard and furniture packages.
GMHP have responded well to previous JRF research and many of our pledges stem from their findings and recommendations. A GMHP working group has just been established to look at what more we can do on this. If you’d like to be involved or find out more let me know. As usual you are very welcome to send your feedback or suggestions for the next issue to Julie.Ralph@boltonathome.org.uk
ATHENA MOTIV8 PROGRAMME Get back on track with Motiv8 Motiv8 is a Greater Manchester programme to help unemployed people aged 25 and over. It supports some of the most disadvantaged and vulnerable people in society overcome a wide variety of complex issues and barriers to improve their lives and chances of getting back into work. Here is Kris’s story
This time last year, when 39 year old Kris was referred to Motiv8, he was at his lowest ebb. He had been suffering with depression for some time and was also recovering from thyroid cancer. He was then made redundant and didn’t know where to turn. He said; “By this stage I had also lost my home. I couldn’t keep up with the rent and didn’t want to get into debt. I also didn’t want to live on my own, so I was ‘sofa surfing’ between family, friends and my ex-partner. My GP said that I was not ready for work so he gave me a sick note and I took this to the Job Centre in Leigh. They recommended Motiv8 to help me get back on track and I really haven’t looked back since. To the outside world I look normal, it’s not obvious that I’ve got mental health issues and one of the things about Motiv8 is that they look at the whole situation and not just individual elements. Having a personal action plan, specifically focused on my needs, has been great for me. There is a whole team of people to support and advise you and they have specialist partners too, such as Shelter, who have helped me with my housing situation. I also visited Motiv8’s partners at Challenge 4 Change, who provide a brilliant activity centre that helps build your confidence. I have built up a great relationship with the Motiv8 team and the trust between us is mutual. They’ve also got me to speak out and share my experience, something that I never thought I’d be able to do. They have given me so many useful opportunities and I’ve grabbed them with both hands. I just want to say to people that there is help out there. Don’t be afraid to ask, even if you’re a man!”
ATHENA MOTIV8 PROGRAMME Kris’s Key Worker, Tom, said: “When I first met Kris it was clear he had been through a very tough and challenging time but what astounded me more was the resilience and determination Kris showed to get back on track with his life. All he needed was a point in the right direction. To read Kris’s full story visit: https://youtu.be/6oPmnVG_s9c https://motiv8mcr.org/success-stories/kriss-story To view further Motiv8 case studies visit https://www.motiv8mcr.org/success-stories Specialist support Motiv8 works with some of the most disadvantaged communities within Greater Manchester. Our specialist partners provide tailored services to meet this diverse client base providing support with mental wellbeing, confidence building, and specialist housing advice. Motiv8 also provides support to migrant and LGBT communities. Programme specific roles provide clients with debt advice, access to volunteering opportunities and support to find employment. Our specialist partners’ full offer can be viewed at https://motiv8mcr.org/ourspecialist-partners Our delivery team has also benefited from this specialist expertise, helping challenge perceptions and understanding of our client’s situations. Jamie, a Motiv8 Key Worker, said: “Training and workshops provided by our specialist partners have really helped me do my job more effectively. The mental health awareness courses run by Home-Start gave me a real appreciation of some of the challenges Motiv8 participants face.” Do you have customers that could benefit from Motiv8? If you work with customers who might benefit from Motiv8, please contact us. We can provide more information over the phone or arrange a meeting with you and your teams to explain more about the programme. Further information about Motiv8 and the eligibility criteria for the programme, can be found on the website www.motiv8mcr.org or call 0161 331 2048 or email email@example.com. To receive future Motiv8 newsletters, please email your details to firstname.lastname@example.org New Charter Homes (part of the Jigsaw Group) is leading the Motiv8 programme with support from other Manchester Athena housing providers at Stockport Homes, ForViva, Wythenshawe Community Housing Group and Bolton at Home. Motiv8 has been set up thanks to funding from National Lottery through the Big Lottery Fund and European Union through the European Social Fund (2014-2020) as part of the Building Better Opportunities Programme.
BOLTON AT HOME Challenging Stereotypes Bolton at Home’s People Development Team deliver a Customer Focus training event to all new starters and this is being rolled out to all front line staff. Amongst other things it includes interactive sessions on stigma and stereotyping and builds on previous training we’ve done around our anti-poverty work. Staff are shown clips from documentaries produced by Real Stories and then are asked to reflect on what they’ve seen, what negative stereotypes are associated with this and then a reality check. Built onto this learning is an overview of the ways we can help our customers.
Ambition for Ageing projects We are pleased to be working with in partnership with Ambition for Ageing and GMCVO on two projects in Bolton funded by the Big Lottery Fund.
The first is Working Potential which is aimed at carers aged 50+ who want to explore employment or training opportunities. The project will encourage and support them on their journey into new working roles, at the same time boosting self-esteem, reducing social isolation and assisting integration into new and wider communities. The second is the Social Eating project which aims to reduce social isolation by bringing people together using food. Poverty is one of the causes of social isolation. We’re delivering this in eight locations across the borough during 2019 and the learning from this project will be used to produce a Social Eating Guide which can be used by others. Working with partners Shakeel Ahmed – Bolton’s Money Skills Heat Hero What a month December was for Shakeel Ahmed our Money Skills Development Worker!!! Not only did he win Bolton Council’s Bolton’s Best Customer Care Award for his work around fuel poverty he was also awarded a Heat Hero award through National Energy Action (a national charity fighting to end fuel poverty). This meant a trip to London for Shakeel and Carole Jackson (Housing Sustainability Principal Officer) attending the House of Commons to pick up his award. 5 5
BOLTON AT HOME Here’s what he won the awards for……. Since 2015 Shakeel’s role has involved working with the fuel poor. He has helped customers apply for Warm Home Discount, switch supplier, added vulnerable customers to the Priority Services Register, secured new boilers and delivered group sessions to Bolton residents giving them the knowledge and confidence to take control of their finances. In total since April 15 to August 18 he has helped over 305 people, gaining an average intervention of £161.71 per customer. His highest gain for a switching appointment is over £1,000. Shakeel’s work really focuses on trying to change the habits and behaviour of his clients, educating people around practical money saving tips.
The savings that Shakeel generates for customers allows them to heat their homes over winter months, without it, some customers would “self-disconnect” from their suppliers. Consequently people’s health could be affected, especially those with pre-existing medical conditions, and children, leading to poor health and potentially hospital admission. When attending an appointment with Shakeel he will ensure that any other issues around money guidance are also addressed. More recently his work with Age UK customers has especially highlighted his excellent work ethic. Some of the referrals received via this charity are in need of extra support, be it they are hard of hearing, have mobility problems etc. Shakeel very much embraces these customers and tailors the service he gives them actively listening to their needs. Not only does he forge excellent relationships with his customers but he also has an extraordinary way of developing relationships with key contacts within the community. This has allowed Money Skills to work very closely with existing community groups, establishing relationships which has consequently helped with engagement. He is very much a team player always on hand to assist his team members during busy periods. Furniture4U is a high street store on Victoria Square Bolton, it was set up by Bolton Council in June 2015 to help the residents of Bolton furnish their homes with quality goods at affordable prices without the need to use high street and online rent to buy stores. We did this by forming a partnership with “Hoot”, Bolton’s Credit Union. The shop runs like any other high street store. Customers can shop and pay in full by cash or card, or if they live work or 6 6
BOLTON AT HOME study in the Bolton area and don’t have the disposable income to purchase goods outright, we have the facility to offer weekly payments that are financed through the credit union. (T’s & C’s apply). One of the great things about this is that one of the conditions of borrowing through the credit union is that you must save with them, this helps in changing behaviours of those who have never managed to save before.
One of our success stories In the first 2 years of us opening a customer bought an electric cooker, a washing machine and a fridge-freezer from us on weekly payments. He paid extra each week off his loan amount so that it was paid quicker, he continued to pay the same amount into his credit union account each week even after he had paid for his goods. He said, “Well I have managed without it so I am just going to keep on saving”. When it came time for him to purchase his third item a fridge-freezer he had more than enough to pay outright for this. He chose not too as he had never had savings before and didn’t want to go into them, he was saving for Christmas and had over £500 in his account. He has continued to save and has also purchased other items from us.
From April 2018 to Sept 2018, 35 customers who purchased goods via the weekly payment scheme could have potentially saved £14,539.88 between them. This is the extra it could have potentially cost them had they purchased comparable good from rent to buy stores on the high street or online. This is a massive saving and let’s not lose sight of the fact that people are also saving at the same time. Furniture poverty is huge across the country and can have an impact on tenancy sustainment, if every authority (let’s think big) across the country had a similar scheme, then this would become the norm and could put an end to unscrupulous lenders who exploit some of the most vulnerable in society.
BOLTON AT HOME Working with our communities Withins Action Group, known as WAG locally are based in Bolton at Homeâ€™s Elderdale Community Centre in Breightmet. The group was formally constituted in June 2018 when a group of local residents came together to tackle some of the issues facing this neighbourhood, to help improve the local area and to create opportunities for local residents. Their work so far has helped to reduce isolation, improve the local environment, offer a programme of creative activities and help tackle food poverty.
One of the ways WAG want to reduce isolation is by developing a Community Cafe, which is one of the steering groupâ€™s main passion. The members started a 'Snack and Chat' drop in session on Saturday mornings 10.00am - 12.00pm to give local residents an opportunity to socialise but very quickly as families learned they could come along for free tea and toast numbers grew so the session was extended to 2.00pm. WAG then began to talk to Bolton Nice, a local group who distribute supermarket food soon to go out of date but still good to eat. Bolton Nice arranged to drop off surplus food every Saturday morning so that WAG could give it out to local families struggling to make ends meet that are attending 'Snack and Chat' sessions. Now families are spreading the word that food is available if families need it. WAG are now going on training at Trafford Hall in February to learn how to run a community cafe. From this month a local community business, The Video Box, are delivering a luncheon session in Elderdale which is part of the Ambition for Ageing Social Eating project for both regular and new attendees. WAG are hoping that the Social Eating project will initiate the preparation and sharing of food at Elderdale and in the medium to long term help them establish a community cafe in the longer term, which is a key objective and passion for some of the steering group members. 8 8
FIRST CHOICE HOMES OLDHAM Make a house a home and improve the lives of children living in poverty First Choice Homes Oldham is putting young people at the heart of its plans to stamp out poverty in its communities. The landlord has been working on a number of projects with families, and particularly children, to make sure houses feel like home, and to help tackle both the consequences and root causes of poverty.
The proportion of children living in poverty in the UK has risen considerably in the last 30 years. According to the Children’s Society, almost one in three children in the UK live in poverty. This is set to rise to five million by 2020. In Oldham 34% of children were reported as living in poverty in 2012. First Choice Homes Oldham is running a number of projects to assist children living in poverty. Members of the First Choice Homes team recently went to talk to children at one of our local schools, Holy Cross, and asked them what home meant to them. Their answers included: • ‘Home is my sanctuary.’ • ‘When at home, I relax and spend time with my family.’ • ‘Home means everything to me, I can do anything there.’ • ‘I love home.’ Aimee Burgess, Assistant Director of Organisational Development, said: “Spending time with the children and listening to what their homes meant to them really brought to life how important it is to create the right environment for young people. “The children didn’t describe what home meant to them as bricks and mortar but expressed ‘home’ as a feeling. That means creating the right environment both in and outside of their homes and estates is incredibly important so that children feel safe and secure when out walking or playing in their neighbourhood.” That’s why First Choice Homes Oldham has worked with young people in its Clarksfield and Greenacres neighbourhoods focussing on the concept of place and identity. The project aimed to address their sense of safety and security when using public spaces and to look at how their own behaviour in these places could make other people feel. To gauge how local children felt about their neighbourhoods First Choice Homes Oldham worked with local schools to engage pupils in writing poems and rhymes 9 9
FIRST CHOICE HOMES OLDHAM about the streets where they lived. The young people found this a useful way to reflect on how they and others use the streets and the impact people have on each other. Different groups of pupils from each school then extracted key lines from the poems written. These were used to create a theatre performance on the theme of ‘home’. Staff then worked with a group of Roma young people to discover how they, as members of the newest community in the area, felt about the area and their home. During workshops the young people told the story of their experiences of living in the locality.
The 12-week project was facilitated by First Choice Homes Oldham in partnership with Oldham Coliseum and funding from Oldham Youth Council. Zerg Raja, Stronger Communities Officer who helped organise the project with the Roma children said: “We believe the project has helped to strengthen the sense of place and belonging Roma young people feel in the community; contributing towards positive citizenship and enhanced cohesion.” Winter Warmer In the winter months fuel poverty can hit low income families who may have to make a choice between food and heating. To help address this First Choice Homes Oldham has run its Winter Warmer campaign for the third year. It has given out 100 Winter Warmer packs to vulnerable customers and families suffering from fuel and food poverty over the cold months. Packs included thermal hats, gloves, socks, blankets, hot water bottles and food. Another 100 packs were donated by Heating Contractor Sure Maintenance. Festive activities were also held before Christmas across community centres where First Choice Homes Oldham provided food, a quiz and games. Each child received a selection box and a wrapped Christmas gift. For some, this may have been their only Christmas gift. Employment Opportunities As well as these projects First Choice Homes Oldham’s Directions team works with vulnerable families to help secure training and work opportunities for family members to lift them out of the cycle of poverty. In 2018 the team supported 294 customers with employment opportunities and after six months 71% of these customers were still sustaining their employment. First Choice Homes Oldham will continue to work hard to improve the lives of our customers struggling with poverty and next winter we will be linking with Age UK and Oldham Council to support an even larger Winter Warmer campaign. 10 10
FORVIVA Empowering Young Women Working in partnership with Salford Council Integrated Youth Services & Fighting Fit Kids this pilot programme helped young women aged between 11 and 16 to raise their aspirations, specifically aiming to develop a greater sense of emotional and physical wellbeing whilst gaining self confidence and self-esteem.
Sessions ran weekly evenings for two hours at Deans Youth Centre, Salford. The key advice and learning areas covered during the 16 week programme, May to September, included self -defence, body image, relationships with food including nutrition and cooking, the impact of social media, mental wellbeing, internet safety, relationships and domestic abuse. Each session started with an icebreaker and a general catch up followed by youth work relating to the advice and learning areas and ended with a self-defence class. The group also discussed strategies to avoid conflict and aggression and non-physical ways of diffusing situations. There were 26 young women who participated and the average age of the young women was 13 years. Some of the outcomes from the project included: Positive thinking and self-belief, important for good mental health, was increased: ď‚ˇ Participants reported confidence had improved the most. Activities undertaken in the programme such as building relationships, being assertive and the setting of new challenges are some of the ways recommended by the NHS to improve confidence. The recommended daily exercise level needed to sustain or improve health was met: ď‚ˇ Each week the participants took part in 90 minutes of exercise. The NHS recommends that young people in this age group need to do 60 minutes of physical activity every day to stay healthy or to improve health as well as to achieve higher levels of self-esteem. (Source NHS https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/physical-activity-guidelines-children11 11
and-young-people/). Participants reported physical health as the second most improved area.
Improved personal safety Although the before surveys did not show feeling safe as a particular issue for the participants, their comments did evidence that the self-defence classes did provide them with skills to stay safe.
Connect … Participants connected with peers through the sessions Keep learning … Participants learnt new things such as selfdefence, internet safety and how to manage feelings
Be active … 90 minutes of physical exercise was included in each session Give … One participant now volunteers at a youth club due to confidence gained
Take notice … The Journey Booklet required participants to reflect and record
Wellbeing is improved This activity demonstrates improvements in areas important for personal wellbeing, particularly mental health, as advocated by the Government sponsored “5 ways to wellbeing” campaign as illustrated above.
Due to the outcomes achieved, ForViva are looking to deliver the programme again but to deliver 2 shorter course separate single sex cohorts (young women and young men) across 4 other Youth Groups we support designed; which will be designed by the young women and men themselves.
FORVIVA Manchester Sleepout ForViva are fully committed to tackling homelessness through prevention, relief and support and are undertaking a vast amount of activity to combat and reduce the homelessness crisis and ensure that no individual should have to sleep rough.
Seventeen ForViva staff members came together on Friday 9th November and took part in the Manchester Sleepout to further demonstrate ForViva's commitment to raising awareness of homelessness, along with highlighting the fantastic work of the Booth Centre and raising funds for the vital support services which they provide. Over 500 people in total took part in the Sleepout, with a fantastic amount of money raised to help the Booth Centre to continue to offer support services for people who are sleeping out night after night. After hearing from some lived experiences of homelessness, followed by an inspiring performance from Streetwise Opera, all 500 taking part headed outside into the grounds of Manchester Cathedral to find a spot of grass to bed down for the night. It was cold, grim and uncomfy, with many unable to sleep due to the constant noises of sirens, street cleaners and drunken members of the public passing by. However, whilst it was a challenge, all remembered that this was not a true picture of what itâ€™s really like to sleep rough every night, it was simply just a very small glimpse of the hardships, challenges and unbearable circumstances that many face night after night. Through taking part, ForViva have managed to raise over ÂŁ2,600 for the Booth Centre. It was an emotional evening for all that took part, but it has made everyone even more determined to do all that we can to help tackle homelessness so that everyone has the opportunity to have a place to call home.
ONE MANCHESTER Tackling Fuel Poverty on the Road With the winter weather in full force, ensuring our residents are warm in their homes is so important. However, not everyone has the knowledge, or the provisions to make their house energy efficient.
Our Asset Management team and our One Money team partnered with LEAP – Local Energy Advice Partnership – to offer the residents of our place areas free energy and money saving services. We set up a series of energy road shows, taking these services out and about in our communities to reach people one on one.
Meeting people in community centres allowed us to help people to understand things like switching their energy provider, how a smart meter could help them manage their energy bills and how to get the most out of their current heating system. As of the end of January 2019, we have already actively engaged with 116 people. Liz Prestbury, energy and sustainability project coordinator at One Manchester, said: “My previous experience in supporting residents with energy advice, tips and support for heating their home makes it clear how many people struggle with the decision of whether to heat or eat. “Partnering with LEAP has helped our team to do even more to prevent our tenants and staff from falling into fuel poverty, and our roadshows help us to get direct access to those residents who might be struggling in silence.” At the energy roadshows, people get a free goody-bag, providing them with things such as LED lightbulbs and a radiator heat reflector, helping them to keep their energy bills down. These provisions have kindly been provided by Groundwork Landscapes Limited, British Gas and Citizens Advice Big Energy Saving Week Campaign. They can also book in a free home visit with LEAP, during which a Home Energy Advisor will help to install energy efficiency measures such as draught-proofing, review the resident’s current energy usage, and even arrange a free money advice consultation to support them to identify funding for further energy-saving home improvements. These roadshows will be running across central, south and east Manchester until February of this year, but we hope to extend the project, offering help and advice at our other community events throughout the year. 14 14
REGENDA HOMES A little help at Christmas time… Staff from St Chads worked hard donating, collecting and making hampers for families in the community. These were distributed across the various areas of Greater Manchester & Cheshire. Through the Thriving Hollinwood partnership, including Oasis Hub & Onward Homes, the ‘Big Give’ initiative has managed to collect enough food to make 48 hampers for nominated families.
We understand Christmas can be a hard time of year for lots of people, so hope these food packages will help our residents and support anyone feeling isolated. A project in the New Year will also look at supporting members of the community, into services which help them to feel less isolated. This will involve an introduction to various services and projects in their local area. In addition to this, we have also made 6 specialised packages for homeless men that we have been made aware of in the Hollinwood area. These men are engaging with the Hollinwood Medical Practice accessing services in the community. Lisa Chattington – Focus Care Practitioner, said ‘The young men we are working with will find in particularly hard at this time of year, so receiving this small package has brought a small bit of happiness to their lives making them feel valued and supported.’ 5 large boxes of supplies have also been gifted to Oldham foodbank. Oasis Community Kitchen Project: Oasis Community Kitchen is a food project where volunteers prepare food that has been collected as food waste from the supermarkets and create meals to be distributed back into the community. One of the main ways they do this is during the school holidays, planning and preparing meals and activities for half term activities. October Half Term saw families meeting up 4 times in the week for activities, films and food. Meals are prepared and served by the volunteers in a family dining experience. Media such as phones and iPads are banned whilst eating to encourage conversations. Over 100 families attended over October’s half term receiving a hot meal, having fun and reducing social isolation within the community. 15 15
REGENDA HOMES Hollinwood Winter Festival Families met up for 6 weeks prior to the Winter Festival in December attending crafty families sessions to make festive lanterns for the lantern parade that led up to the Oasis Academy in Hollinwood. Hot chocolate was served to all the families on arrival and a cheese pie supper and mince pies were available again in a family dining experience.
Crackers were on the tables and carols were sung before Santa arrived in his grotto to give all of the children a free gift. The activities were all free of charge and funded through a variety of partners to ensure our families left feeling festive. Food donations were also accepted for The Big Give project where hampers were made and distributed amongst our community. Creative Credit This quarter the Creative Credit project has been working on setting up volunteer-run initiatives to support the local Credit Union drop-in sessions. The project is also delivering two after school clubs as well as the community drop in. The volunteers are training to eventually take over the delivery of the drop in session and will be responsible for taking deposits for Oldham Credit Union accounts and administering up the local Credit Union branch. They will also support at a number of schools to run three new after school clubs. The drop-in engaged 11 new people this quarter who open Credit Union accounts. There was a total of ÂŁ472 deposited this quarter. Between the two after school clubs running this quarter we had 86 young people in attendance.
SALIX HOMES More than £90,000 channelled into Salford community projects More than £90,000 has been ploughed into community projects and good causes in Salford during the past year thanks to Salix Homes. Over 100 local groups and projects received a much-needed cash boost through Salix Homes’ Springboard fund during 2018. The community grant programme enables Salford-based organisations or initiatives to bid for funding to help support projects that boost community spirit, improve the environment, reduce isolation and promote health and wellbeing. During the past 12 months, grateful recipients have included dance troupes, grassroots football teams, bowlers, computer clubs and community gardening projects.
For many, like Lower Kersal Young People and Community Group (LKYPCG) the funding has proved a lifeline. The LKYPCG charity, which provides activities and opportunities for hundreds of people across Salford, secured £900 for its Soil and Shed project at Kersal Vale Allotments, which brings together war veterans in Salford. Thomas Lever MBE who runs the group, said: “Ex-servicemen and women can often feel very isolated after leaving the forces. They sacrifice a lot, risk their lives and lose friends and comrades along the way, so Soil and Shed is the perfect place for them to socialise and reconnect with the armed forces community. “The Springboard funding makes a big difference to projects like ours and helps us to keep going.” LKYPCG also benefitted from an additional £1,000 after being voted the first ever winners of the Springboard Heroes Award – which allowed the public to vote for the most worthy project to receive an extra cash boost. Other recipients included five talented teenage dancers who secured £1,200 to help them realise their dreams and dance on the world stage at the Dance World Cup in Barcelona where they picked up silver medal. Sue Sutton, executive director of operations at Salix Homes, said: “In a time of austerity and budget cuts, our Springboard fund has proved a lifeline for many, enabling local good causes to continue the fantastic work they are doing to improve lives and increase opportunities for people living in Salford. “The scope of projects we’ve supported over the past year has been far-reaching and we are incredibly proud to hand over this well-deserved money which has helped sustain projects and initiatives that are making a real difference in our communities. Grant applications under £1,000 are approved by Salix Homes’ neighbourhood teams, and any bids over £1,000 are approved by the Customer Excellence Panel. 17 17
SIX TOWN HOUSING Baby Bank opens at Chesham Fold TRA As featured on our cover, a community group in Bury have opened a “baby bank” that provides equipment and clothes for young children to parents experiencing financial difficulties.
Chesham Fold Tenant and Residents Association (TRA) can provide parents in poverty with equipment including cots, pushchairs, toys and baby baths as well as disposable items such as nappies and baby shampoo. Clothes are also available for children up to the age of five. Items are provided on a referral basis, with partnerships having been set up with local midwives and health workers in contact with new parents living in East Bury. Cath Rowley, who volunteers for the TRA, said, “Being a new parent brings a lot of joy, but for those who have found themselves facing poverty it can be very challenging. We decided to open the baby bank as we don’t think anyone should be in a situation where they can’t provide their infant with the essentials.” Chesham Fold TRA run a range of other services to support their community, including a weekly youth club for children aged 5 to 16, a foodbank and the environmental action group “Friends of Gypsy Brook”. Find out more at www.facebook.com/cheshamfold
SOUTHWAY HOUSING TRUST Southway continues to improve access to affordable credit Southway has been continuing to work hard to promote South Manchester Credit Union with whom we have developed a very successful partnership over the last decade.
We work with them to deliver our affordable loan scheme ‘Southway Solutions’, now in its 5th year with over 900 tenants having borrowed. Interest from the loans goes into a development fund to help promote the credit union and for the last 2 years has been used to pay for a Post Graduate media student, Ryan Cusack, who has worked wonders in developing their publicity, particularly with regard to improving their website and social media presence. Before Christmas South Manchester credit union formed a consortium, ‘SoundPound’, with 5 other Manchester unions as part of a publicity campaign to give credit unions more visibility in Manchester. Southway invited the credit union to their offices to encourage more staff to join and many demonstrated their support by having their picture taken highlighting the credit union’s new ‘Better off with us’ slogan. Staff have mentioned how much they love the opportunity to save via Payroll Deduction. Many say they don’t even notice the money going out each month and are amazed at how much they managed to save in a short period of time. Like many of our tenant members, staff were using their savings to help pay for Christmas, holidays and home improvements. 19 19
SOUTHWAY HOUSING TRUST Southway launches ‘Right Track UC’ loans January saw us issuing the first ‘Right Track UC’ loan which intends to reduce the hardship suffered by those having to wait for their first Universal Credit payment. The loan is available to those who haven’t had an advanced payment from DWP and are being supported by Southway’s Advice Services Team, who are in a good position to recommend the amount the client needs to borrow. The tenant who applied did a lot of seasonal work so was used to coping with gaps in their pay. However when her last job finished sooner than expected she was forced to claim UC until she found more work, and was really struggling to keep up with her rent and other bills. DWP wanted any advance repaid over a relatively short period which she felt would just extend the time she would be in hardship so didn’t think it was worth taking. She had never been out of work for long and was good at managing her money and the Advice Team, who were already helping her with benefits and mounting debts, felt she was an ideal person to be offered a Right Track UC loan. She was offered £1200 which would cover her main bills until she received regular money again and she opted to repay over 3 years, which kept initial repayments low. She could then increase the repayments when back in work which would shorten the loan period and substantially reduce the interest paid. The loan isn’t suitable for everyone but for those who move in and out of work it should prove to be useful. ‘Spring into Work’ Jobs month In the run up to Easter Southway are planning a month of events focused on helping residents get into work. Large employers such as Aldi, the NHS and the Airport are to give presentations at local community hubs for residents interested in working for them and on 18th April a Jobs Fair is being held at Burnage Academy. The events aim to help all residents looking for employment or apprenticeships in the South Manchester area. Over 20 employers who regularly recruit have been invited to have stands at the jobs fair which will also include workshops on job searching, CV writing and Interview skills delivered by Google Garage. There will also be presentations on becoming self-employed delivered by a couple of small business owners. ‘Be Well’ Employment support In addition to its own in house employment advice Southway with One Manchester and Wythenshawe Community Homes is also helping to deliver the ‘Be Well’ project. This is funded by The Big Life Group with the intention of directing clients to different types of support that can improve their health and wellbeing. All ‘Be Well’ referrals come from GPs and Big Life then direct clients to the most appropriate form of support. The three housing associations are each managing 2 Specialist Coaches for the project providing employment support over the next 2 years 7months.
STOCKPORT HOMES Women in Business Success
At the end of 2017, Stockport Homes worked in partnership with the Enterprise Bridge to deliver a Women in Business course.
This was designed to help bring like-minded women together to talk about their ideas for setting up a business, gain confidence and give them the practical skills and knowledge to be able to take their ideas forward. In the last 12 months we have seen five women set up their business and start trading, with more to follow soon. For more information contact Jo Claridge, Employment & Support Services Manager on 0161 474 3716. Winter welfare visits! Every year, Stockport Homes delivers a programme of Winter Welfare Visits to around 500 of our older and more vulnerable customers. The visits enable staff to provide advice and assistance on keeping warm, eating well and checking vaccinations are up to date. We are also able to make referrals for equipment and adaptations and to other agencies such as Age UK, the NHS and Greater Manchester Fire Service. We do not go empty handed! Everyone who has a visit receives a goody bag containing a small gift and some relevant information provided by local agencies working with elderly and vulnerable people across the borough. We complete a short survey and see if there is anything else we can help with whilst we are there. The information gathered is useful as it helps provide support to older and more vulnerable people living in the community. It also means we are able to improve our services and reduce social isolation too. For more information about this project: contact Nicola Moore, Adaptations & Older Persons Support Team Leader, 0161 474 2922 21 21
STOCKPORT HOMES Supporting customers to get online! Being online is more important than ever. How people communicate and manage everyday transactions is being affected and shaped by digital technology. Those living in social housing are more likely to be without even the basic digital skills, so SHG is committed to ensuring customers get all the support they need to maximise the benefits of the internet.
As well as offering 23 weekly digital skills training sessions from ten locations in partnership with local social enterprise Start Point, SHG took part in the national Get Online Week 2018 in October to raise awareness of the importance of the internet, and link customers to the support available locally. SHG is also working in partnership with Stockport Council, Good Things Foundation and local partners in Stockport as part of the #digiknow network, which aims to create a web of digital skills support centres across Stockport, making it easier for residents to find help in their local community. To further support its commitment to digital inclusion in the borough, SHG has agreed a programme to offer Wi-Fi internet in the 22 high rise blocks it manages over the next few months. This work builds on the provision of Wi-Fi internet access already made available both in community centres and sheltered housing schemes managed by SHG. For more information contact Mo Mustafa, Inclusion Officer, 0161 218 1768 Successful product delivered by Stockport Credit Union Stockport Homes has supported Stockport Credit Union over the past four years, seeing it develop from a position of grant dependency to now being a self-funding credit union. One of the main successes over the past few years has been the development of a Child Benefit Loan product which commenced in July 2017. The product is available to any person living or working in Stockport who is in receipt of child benefit. The product works by the Credit Union offering a loan and the customer agreeing for a specified portion of their child benefit to be paid directly to the Credit Union. This product allows customers who are new to the Credit Union to take out an immediate loan. It has a very good repayment rate which has allowed the Credit Union to agree loans to customers who might usually be a high risk and the scheme has encouraged customers to save from their child benefit alongside the loan repayments. In the 12 months to September 2018, Stockport Credit Union loaned just over ÂŁ160,000 in Child Benefit Loans to 382 different customers. These customers may previously not have been eligible for a loan. The scheme has been a great success and the expectation is to pass ÂŁ200,000 in Child Benefit Loans this year. Many customers have benefited but it has also been an important aspect of the credit union becoming self-sufficient. For more information, please Contact Martin Saunders, Customer Access Manager 0161 474 2202.
STOCKPORT HOMES Local veterans put on their aprons for cooking session A veteran’s cookery session was held at the training kitchen at Brindale House, SHG’s family temporary accommodation scheme. Organised by ‘Chefs in action’ and ‘Help for Heroes’ in partnership with Stockport Homes, it was an overwhelming success. Several local veterans enjoyed preparing and eating butter chicken curry, saffron rice pilaff and garlic naan bread.
Chef Noel Goulding was the tutor, a Falklands war veteran himself. “It was a really great session, everybody enjoyed themselves, thanks to Stockport Homes staff the veterans felt comfortable and respected” Kevin Hartley, North West coordinator of Help for Heroes, said: “As a pilot, it was a stunning success. We intend to roll out these sessions across the North West”. Councillor Amanda Peers, said: “I was really impressed with the facilities at Brindale House, the veterans cooking programme is a great initiative not only to develop cooking skills but for the social interaction, reducing isolation and developing new relationships. Food is something that can be a great social experience but it isn’t always a positive if you live alone. “Noel Goulding is a great motivator too, his approach is inspirational and his enthusiasm for the project was really obvious, I’m sure we can deliver more projects and initiatives in partnership in the future.” It was another example of Stockport Homes ensuring that its community programme reaches all Stockport residents. Guiding Stockport residents into Gourmet Jobs In November Stockport Homes’ Customer Training and Employment Teams worked with local residents to help secure jobs with Stockport’s newest ‘British Retro Deli’ – Blackshaws Café. 14 residents attended a week long pre-employment programme learning, customer service, food hygiene and job skills with residents guaranteed interviews with Northern Restaurants the owners of Blackshaws. The programme was a great success with three residents attaining positions (half of those available). Two residents secured front of house positions with a further resident securing a position as a chef.
WYTHENSHAWE COMMUNITY HOUSING GROUP WCHG coordinate Xmas Food Appeal A Christmas food appeal was co-ordinated by WCHG to make sure the most vulnerable people in our community had enough food for Christmas. Together with an army of volunteers, 144 Christmas hampers were put together with the campaign generating enough food to feed 425 people, including 243 children who may have struggled over the Christmas period.
Hampers contained everything needed to make a Christmas lunch as well as some extra treats too. In addition to these, 40 Christmas Treat Hampers were delivered to Unit E (funded by Our Manchester) to be distributed to families in need over the festive period. Teams across WCHG worked together including the Financial Inclusion and Tenancy Support to make sure families in most need received a hamper. External agencies such as Social Services and Early Help Hub were also engaged. Key sponsors included Lloyds Banking Group, Manchester City Council, Prevention of Breast Cancer Manchester, City of Trees who donated time, cash and food to the initiative. The community centres received 8,567 visits in December. As well as the usual sports and social activities, visitors were treated to a Carol Concert, hosted by the Lifestyle Centre and more than 600 Christmas dinners were served over the period. Young people visiting youth clubs made Christmas wreaths which were taken to vulnerable tenants. The youth team were successful in their application to be a local â€˜Mission Xmasâ€™ distributor in Wythenshawe and 75 deliveries were made with presents for all the children and young people in the household who otherwise would not have received a Christmas gift. Visiting young people at their properties provided a great opportunity for the team to meet parents 24 24
WYTHENSHAWE COMMUNITY HOUSING GROUP and carers and build positive relationships with them. It also gave the team an insight into the lives of young people in their own homes. The Enterprise Centre was open through the Christmas time supporting entrepreneurs through the festive period. A drop in was available between Christmas and New Year for young people to meet one-to-one with youth workers in a safe and warm environment. Six young people benefited from this service.
Sir Richard Leese Visits Real Food Wythenshawe Leader of Manchester City Council Leader Sir Richard Leese visited the Real Food Wythenshawe Project this January to see the difference the project is making to the local community. This visit came about after Sir Richard made reference to Wythenshawe Community Housing Group’s (WCHG’s) Real Food project in his opening statement at the Manchester Climate Change Conference in July last year. Real Food is a programme designed to engage and inspire people about growing veg and cooking fresh, homemade food. Its aim is to reach people across the whole community, supporting them to lead healthier and happier life. As part of the tour he visited the Real food Kitchen in Wythenshawe Market, the Edible Interchange outside the Forum, the Geodome at Manchester College and the Horticultural Centre in Wythenshawe Park. Over the next few years the focus of Real Food will be empowering and engaging communities and individuals to improve their health through 3 new projects: The Green Doctor –promoting wellbeing, health and happiness. Friendly engagement and fun nature based activities that help to build communities and cultivate enjoyment of green spaces. 25 25
WYTHENSHAWE COMMUNITY HOUSING GROUP Cooking with Confidence - Learn how to cook from scratch and take control of your health and budget. Real Food on Tour - sharing Real food Wythenshawe experience and good practice. WCHG Chief Executive Kevin Lowry said â€œWe were delighted that Sir Richard could visit the Real Food Project and see first-hand the difference they are making in the fantastic community of Wythenshawe and beyond.â€?
Digital Inclusion and Universal Credit Following the roll out of Universal Credit in July 2018 WCHG have been supporting vulnerable and digitally excluded people living in the Wythenshawe area who require face to face help with their on-line application for Universal Credit. In April 2018 they successfully received funding to extend the employment of a digital inclusion worker from 3 days per week to 5 in order to support people who do not have digital skills or a good standard of written and spoken English to apply for this benefit online. Working in partnership with Job Centre Plus and community centres across Wythenshawe they have to date supported 130 people attending the job centre to complete Universal Credit forms online.
Support has also been given to people to obtain all the required paperwork, set up bank accounts and obtain the required ID. The aim of the programme is to raise peoples IT skills and empower them by showing them how to create an account, create a password, and complete the form, log in and out of their account. We are planning to create a guide to remind them of what they have learned and a list of places who offer free internet access, if, they do not have access at home. We also signpost to the relevant agencies to make sure people are able to help themselves when things go wrong, what to do if there is a delay in receiving benefit or they have been sanctioned. We also encourage people to return if they need further help with their job search and applications and offer training opportunities to increase their skills, self-esteem and confidence. To date we have recorded a footfall of 720 people have accessed the service across 3 sites in Wythenshawe. We want people to leave feeling empowered, less stressed and knowing they can access further help if they need before problems arise.
You can find out more about the work of Greater Manchester Housing Providers by following them on Twitter @GMHousing Or visit the website for the latest news www.gmhousing.co.uk 26 26
Shining a light on the poverty reduction work done by Greater Manchester Housing Providers and some of the projects and communities we work...
Published on Jan 31, 2019
Shining a light on the poverty reduction work done by Greater Manchester Housing Providers and some of the projects and communities we work...