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Update: 'How can Network Homes give back to local communities' online event

02 October 2020

One of our challenges, as a housing provider, is being able to turn the ‘bricks and mortar’ into strong and inclusive communities. The people behind the screen and at the end of the phone, are key to how we support resident relationships but we aren’t able to do it ourselves. The current ‘normal’ and cultural shift in how society interact with each other makes this slightly more difficult so building relationships with established community groups and community leaders will be key to how we create and strengthen these connections.

At the last online themed event, 17 September 2020, we asked for resident feedback and ideas on how we can further give back to local communities – whether it be by community initiatives or supporting resident hardship with our new charitable fund. We had some great discussions; some tables were so passionate we ran out of time to get all of their ideas down but thankfully residents were happy to continue the discussion and share ideas offline. Two attendees even chose to become formally involved as Community Ambassadors to collaborate and shape future projects.

Our goal was to ask residents what the key focus for support from the charitable fund should be and how can ensure the budget can help as many people as possible. It is great to hear the vision of the project team was the same as residents to focus on support for hardship, especially in light of people’s changing circumstances in the current economic climate.

Other points that were clear from discussions are:

  • There will be varying priorities for support e.g. hardship vs resident events
  • Ways of accessing the fund need to be varied e.g. referral sources and communication type
  • Different requests will require a quicker turn around time based on resident need
  • Promotion for support and signposting must be clear to manage expectation 
  • We don’t need to reinvent the wheel, there are organisations in existence already with expertise in supporting people we should signpost to as a first point of contact
  • There are opportunities to do more within our existing neighbourhoods to support sustainability and diverse family need

The new charitable fund has already helped people over the past 6 months but with the new insight from attendees at the online event we’ll need to do a few things before we can fully roll out the fund with simple and clear processes to manage expectation and reduce potential abuse of the fund.

The next steps are:

  • Create a matrix of needs to be able to categorise and prioritise requests for support
  • Create a resource list of organisations whose sole purpose is to support community needs
  • Review the internal policy and process for referrals and approvals to ensure more staff can support residents at first point of contact to reduce response time
  • Have the amended processes and policy approved
  • The fund and processes will reviewed regularly to ensure efficiency and be able to identify trends and areas requiring more support each year.

Thank you again to everyone who attended the event, and to those who shared insights in emails to us. It's reassuring to know we're on the right path to support people and community led initiatives. We'd also like to thank Zoe, the Chair of a Resident Association in Hertford and Local Panel Member for co-hosting the event.

If you know of organisations we could collaborate with to support residents, email us at get.involved@networkhomes.org.uk. If you’d like to be get more hands on with us and your local area, why not look into becoming a Community Ambassador.

Be on the lookout for the information to join the next online event, 22 October 2020, where we'll be discussing 'Strengthening Trust and Improving Communication'.