Supporting our communities: G15 impact report

A new report from the G15, published today, is calling for the critical community investment support that housing associations have provided to people during the pandemic to be expanded as a key part of the fair recovery London’s communities need.

‘Supporting our communities during the pandemic: G15 impact report 2020-21’ brings together case studies from across the group’s membership of initiatives that have made a real difference to people over the last 18 months.

The report follows a needs analysis report from HACT of G15 members’ community investment provision, which supported the scoping of the project to identify key themes in the type of support offered to residents.

Case studies include MTVH’s partnership with young people in Brent that was created to understand the support young people needed following the outbreak of the pandemic, and which has now grown into a wider engagement programme that is giving young people a voice in their community. Hyde Housing’s additional support for residents affected by domestic abuse, alongside Clarion Housing Group’s grants of over £750,000 for residents and local groups, and Southern Housing Group’s 2,700 welfare calls that were made, demonstrate the critical role G15 members have played in extremely challenging times.

The report shines a light on the close connections housing associations have with residents and communities, which have allowed them to tailor support where it is needed most. For example, A2Dominion’s ‘Under 30s Project’ provided practical support for residents under 30 who had been particularly badly affected by unemployment caused by the pandemic, and which is now being expanded into a wider specialist tenancy sustainment pilot in partnership with a local council.

In response to the crisis facing many households, Network Homes created a new charitable fund to support residents facing financial hardship and who faced existing challenges. Network also recognised the importance of connection during lockdown, especially for residents living alone, and through its ‘Big Winter Check In’ wrote to all residents to offer support and to signpost people to the charitable fund. One Housing’s resident engagement team supported residents with essential food packs and to date have delivered over 15,000 in partnership with a local tenants and residents association.

Throughout the report there are examples of the difference these projects have made, with many residents and partner organisations explaining the importance of this work. Commenting on the support he received from Optivo when unemployed to find a new job as an electric scooter engineer, Emekay, from Croydon, said:

“I’m grateful for the help Suleiman and Optivo has given me. With the help of team, I was able the build on my confidence and find another job during the lockdown. This is an amazing team that helped me through a challenging time.”

The wider role housing associations play in communities has been demonstrated through initiatives such as Peabody’s partnership with the London Food Alliance, which saw its community centres act as distribution hubs for food supplies, medicine, and care packages. This on the ground support was also a key part of Catalyst’s successful summer cycling programme that saw 140 people take part across 12 neighbourhoods, giving young people a chance to learn to ride a bike despite the restrictions in place due to the pandemic.

Geeta Nanda OBE, G15 Chair and Chief Executive of MTVH, commented:

“Over the last 18 months the value and importance of a good quality and affordable home has never been clearer. What we’ve also seen is just how critical the wider work G15 members do in communities with residents and our partners. This report shines a light on some fantastic examples of this work. I know G15 members are determined to further embed community investment into the work our organisations do, which will be critical to ensuring our communities are supported to recover from the pandemic.”

Dawn Wightman, Director of Housing Services at A2Dominion, added:

“I’m really pleased that we’ve been able to bring together this report that highlights just some of the many projects and initiatives that G15 members are delivering. Many of the case studies focus on projects created in response to the outbreak of the pandemic that have now become longer-term programmes. This work is making a real difference for thousands of people. Community investment is integral to what we do as housing associations, both in times of crisis, but also as an everyday activity. Across the G15, we are committed to doing more of this highly effective work in partnership with residents and communities.”

Read the ‘Supporting our communities during the pandemic: G15 impact report 2020-21’ here