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Creating vibrant communities in our two counties

Neighbourhoods director Jan Goode explains how investment in our homes and support for our customers is creating vibrant communities in Shropshire and Staffordshire.

Severnside Housing and South Staffordshire Housing Association are not-for-profit so every penny is reinvested into our homes and communities.

In an environment where welfare reform, particularly Universal Credit, threatens the income of our customers and therefore the income to our business, we remain committed to building more new, high-quality homes, investing in major home improvement programmes and also in supporting our customers to sustain their tenancies and improve their opportunities through our learning programme, money and employment advice services.

Our Fair Landlord approach ensures our homes and services keep on improving by providing a better allocation of resources. It has already resulted in £1 million savings enabling us to spend over £20 million in home improvements every year.

On top of this we’ve invested £22 million in building 237 more homes and during the next year, there will be further developments in areas such as Shrewsbury, Telford, Codsall and Broseley.

With a clear focus on service delivery, we have achieved excellent performance in housing management. From the management of empty homes to top quartile performance in income collection the team are committed to being excellent providers of housing services.

But it’s not just about providing and managing homes, for us it’s about creating vibrant and sustainable communities. We know that every pound we invest in our development projects produces a social return of £8.54, which increases spending in local shops and support for amenities such as schools. That was a staggering £187 million last year.

The support we offer is wide-ranging including tackling homelessness, educating and supporting customers to cope better with changes in their income and enhancing life opportunities.

In fact, we helped 117 people back into work, education, training or volunteering, thanks in a large part to funding from the National Lottery and European Social Fund. In addition to creating these opportunities, we also gave much-needed money advice to 801 customers, helping them secure £1.4 million in additional income.

And did you know that last year we offered an amazing 1,000 hours of customer support and access to the internet, 3,420 people attended our training programmes, with 68 people gaining learning certificates and 16 achieving City & Guilds qualifications? There was more support for 27 young people who received life skills support through work with us and the Prince’s Trust and Wolverhampton College.

To hear more about the impact we are able to have on people’s lives, please watch this film to hear more about the life-changing work of our Learning Programme.

Our success in improving our services can only be achieved by working closely with our customers who are helping us be the best we can be through our Let’s Talk work.

Through Let’s Talk we obtain regular feedback to make sure what we’re doing is working and that we continue to meet customer needs with over 80 per cent of customers happy with the services we provide.

When speaking to people that call our customer services team, we provide a warm and professional service. We’ve listened to customer feedback and focus on continually improving the quality of our calls – aiming to resolve as many calls as possible at the first point of contract.

Because we received over 138,000 calls last year this has never been more important and we now have a ‘virtual’ contact centre – a single, joined-up team able to respond to calls from anywhere in our operational area. We don’t just hear from customers on the phone as they can contact us by email or on social media too.

Together we can keep on providing more homes and even better services. Whether you are a customer or stakeholder, keep on telling us how you think we’re doing and what you want to see us do to improve. You can do this by emailing us or by sending us a message on social media.

Read more about our success in Our Journey – the Group’s 2017-18 annual report.