Associations ‘must help communities’

Housing associations are set to provide more than “bricks and
mortar” and increase their focus on working in partnership with
social services, health trusts and voluntary groups under a
initiative launched by the National Housing Federation.

The aim of the initiative, “In business for neighbourhoods”, is to
improve homes and services by “creating places where people want to
live” and putting associations “at the heart of towns, villages and

A major part of the campaign, launched at last week’s conference,
will be support for older people and other vulnerable groups.

Diane Henderson, head of care, support and diversity at the NHF,
told Community Care that the focus of the initiative was “joined-up
working”. Housing associations could provide support services or
they could work with local authorities and other community

She said: “We need to work together collectively rather than
competitively. We are in business to do more than bricks and
mortar. Part of being a good social landlord is being a good
partner in your neighbourhood.

“It could mean staff working from one until eight instead of nine
to five so that single mothers coming home from work can actually
get in touch with a housing officer. It could mean joining up with
providers of specialist services for youngsters leaving care to
provide support for youngsters in general housing who might end up
in the youth justice system.

“It’s moving from being led by needs to being led by aspirations.
The key thing in this will be the front-line staff. It isn’t about
the chief executive of the primary care trust and the housing
association and the director of social services meeting for a
drink. It’s front-line staff breaking the boundaries.”

The NHF, which represents 1,400 not-for-profit housing
associations, will be developing joint training and partnerships
with other sectors.

NHF chief executive Jim Coulter said: “Our challenge is to foster
successful neighbourhoods and play our role in sustaining and
supporting them. The future is not business as usual. To stand
still is to actually go backwards.”

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