Last Updated on December 15, 2014
Category: All, Community Support, Customer Engagement, Events, Social Housing

Communities workshop

The second of the popular autumn workshop series was held in November and covered how best to support neighbourhoods and communities. The day started with an insightful case study presented by Midland Heart on how they used their ‘Enhanced Neighbourhoods’ approach to dramatically improve their estates.

The fundamental principle of the approach was moving away from ‘business as usual’ and tailoring services offered to match the particular needs of that area. An involvement hub was created on the estate, projects were run to improve the physical environment (e.g. dog fouling) and  Midland Heart worked in partnership with the other agencies already involved  on that site (e.g. police, social services, health) so they could help each other. As a result positive changes occurred; tenancies were lasting longer, less anti-social behaviour, customers were more engaged and it was a much more pleasant place for tenants to live and staff to work. Midland heart is now using the insights gained to roll out this approach across other areas with a strong evaluation framework and the use of Support Tracker™ to measure and quantify progress.

This led on nicely to Professor Richard Tomlins’ presentation on the role of social value in evaluating the effectiveness of community intervention and support programmes. He outlined the increasing trend of recording and demonstrating social value in the social housing context post Social Value Act (2012) and as part of VfM assessments. He discussed the idea that organisations with good social value strategies not only potentially have happier, more financially included tenants but also gain financially themselves. In addition to having a better organisational public image and more sustainable business plans.

Therefore if social value is such a good thing then why isn’t everybody in the sector doing it? What is the easiest way to measure it? He then referred to our own Social Value Survey which gave a snapshot of current sector trends with regards to social value and led to a lively debate on what direction it may take in the future.

Next was our own presentation on Customer segmentation and how multiple data sources can be manipulated to identify segments and then more effectively target services with regards to need and tenant choice. Finally last on this packed agenda was a case study by Panda Media who showcased how they innovatively use film-making as a qualitative research method to engage with otherwise hard to reach tenants and to find out which issues really matter to them, thus helping to inform where resources should be targeted.

To conclude, the take home message from the day was that there are multiple ways of improving the targeting of support for neighbourhoods and communities but in the era of welfare reforms and social housing grant funding cuts, helping your tenants and your organisations weather this financial storm is a must. If providing programmes that add social value is key to this then surely it is an area that should be carefully considered and implemented.