This was a great year that saw much of our work recognised in a variety of different industries. We couldn't include all the wins or times we were shortlisted, but here are a selection of the ones we're particularly proud of.
Winner: Achievement in Financial Reporting & Accountability, Public Finance Innovation Awards
As part of a wider plan to engage with the young people living in Council homes, Derby Homes’ Customer Engagement & Community Development and Finance Teams took the decision to hand over a big part of the content and design of the annual report to a small group of our potential, future tenants.
Working with local engagement practitioners Mash Up Derby Ltd, the young people went through a range of creative sessions to understand the unedited material. They then helped produce an interactive annual report, using audio/visual media to look at certain parts in more detail.
The project gave the young people opportunities to learn and gain skills. Some of the work has even been included within their portfolio evidence for a creative media course.
The PFI awards are the most prestigious in the finance industry. We were very proud even to be shortlisted alongside the likes of Wales Audit Office, FRC Group, Transport for London and the British Business Bank. To win was a fantastic achievement, not only for ourselves, but all those involved.
PFI Awards Judges commented, “This was a highly innovative and imaginative example of financial reporting, with the extensive involvement of young people and stakeholders from the local community. It showed particular originality and use of social media to engage with its target audience.”
Recognition of Excellence in Health & Safety
Derby Homes became one of only a few housing organisations in the country to have been recognised at the highest level by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) for our commitment towards health and safety. The RoSPA President's Award is achieved by organisations who have already gained ten consecutive Gold Awards.
Julia Small, RoSPA’s head of awards and events, said: “To win an award at such a highly-regarded event as the RoSPA Awards is a great achievement for our winners. It recognises their commitment to maintaining an excellent health and safety record and raises the bar for other organisations to aspire to. We offer them our congratulations.”
In addition to The President's Award, we were also winner of the Health and Safety Award at the Building Communities Awards, hosted by Efficiency East Midlands.
Winners: Excellence in Contractor Engagement/Collaboration of the Year
As part of two joint entries with our contractor for heating, Vaillant UK, our innovative makeover project that engaged with residents on two streets in Normanton saw both regional and national recognition, winning awards in the building services and public sector industries.
We picked up the Collaboration Award at the Heating and Ventilation News Awards 2017, beating out competition including Heathrow Airport, Ulster Hospital and Birmingham New Street Station. Additionally, we won the Excellence in Contractor Engagement Award at the Tenant Participation Advisory Service (TPAS) Central Awards 2017.
Derby Homes and Derby City Council began planning the rejuvenation project in parts of Normanton and Peartree in April 2016. Longer term, the aim is to acquire properties in the area and to develop an established, Housing Management presence in the local community. The project was motivated by a desire to drive up housing standards in Normanton and Peartree, increase engagement with residents, and generate a sense of pride in the area.
To kickstart this initiative, a two-day ‘deep clean’ of two Normanton streets took place in July 2016, with significant involvement from Vaillant volunteers and Derby City Council’s StreetPride team. Work involved cleaning the road and footpaths, repainting houses, putting up hanging baskets and moving bins from the pavements to back gardens.
The project also involved a number of other partners, who helped to engage with residents over the two days. This regeneration project will help tackle social inequality by improving the neighbourhood so it is no longer seen as a ‘less desirable’ place to live in Derby.
Both wins recognised the collaborative partnership between Derby Homes and Vaillant UK, which came about through Efficiency East Midlands (EEM), a not for profit procurement consortium established in 2010.
Our Health: Employee Wellbeing Research Project
Following on from our Risk Assessment campaign, the “Our Health” pilot scheme was an 18 month research project into employee well-being and health awareness at Derby Homes. The main focus of the project was to look at the more subtle health risks to employees and assess the effects of interventions over a longer period of time.
An initial survey devised by the Health and Safety Executive showed that we had a good framework in place to support our employees. We evaluated the results of a number of initiatives across three control groups of staff: customer service team, day-to-day repair operatives and the income team.
Interventions included active sitting, standing desks, fitness trackers/pedometers and mobile phone apps.
During the course of the project, Derby City Council, British Heart Foundation and the NHS delivered sessions to help promote health in the workplace, including smoking reduction and weight loss programmes.
Repair operatives, as a group who are more likely to suffer from muscular vascular problems, also received a number of physiotherapy sessions.
The project also included a focus on mental health, which led to Derby Homes taking the Time To Change Employer Pledge to demonstrate our commitment to change how we think and act about mental health in the workplace.
Macmillan Cancer Support
There are currently 2.5 million people in the UK living with cancer. This is set to rise to four million by 2030, and in just four years, one in two of us can expect to receive a cancer diagnosis. Macmillan is there for anyone affected by cancer – last year over 5.8 million people received their medical, financial, emotional and practical support.
In Derbyshire alone, every day 16 people receive a cancer diagnosis, that’s over 5,700 people each year. There are currently over 35,000 people in Derbyshire living with or beyond cancer. By 2030 that number will be more than 70,000 – enough to full Derby County Football Stadium twice over.
Our employees fundraised through dress-down days, walks, a "Longest Day" Golf Challenge, breakfast cob sales, sweepstakes, name the polar bear, car wash, Go Sober, World’s Biggest Coffee Morning and seasonal activities. Volunteers also held coffee mornings at two sites – Eaton Court and London Road.
Over the partnership, we raised £8,094 for people affected by cancer, exceeding our original target of £5,000. This is enough for almost 300 nursing hours, 43 Macmillan heating grants, or enough to run a Macmillan Information and Support Centre (such as the one at the Royal Derby Hospital) for well over a month.
Focus on Young People
The young people involved in last years' annual report did so well it won the national award for the most innovative reporting for the whole public sector. This year, we've maintained our focus on young people by strengthening support for our Youth Board and supporting Mash Up Derby to progress our Junior Warden Scheme to work within schools where it can have a bigger influence.
Of course, we also celebrated National Apprenticeship Week, which saw us carry out a number of "role-swaps" and attend some key events in Derby to help promote the benefits of apprenticeships.
Hate Crime in Derbyshire
For one week in 2016, we co-ordinated a countywide focus on the hate crime strategy for Derbyshire. With funding from the Police Crime Commissioner for Derbyshire, our Hate Crime Community Development Officer brought together key partners from the region and worked with the charity SOPHIE (The Sophie Lancaster Foundation) to get commitment in the form of a range of pledges to help combat hate crime in the region.
Events included a charity rock gig, targeted hate crime training and a major event in the centre of Derby that served as a high profile focus on the actions being taken across the county. The event took place at Derby Quad and included two screenings (one public) of Black Roses: The Killing of Sophie Lancaster.
During the week, we helped to create hate crime champions in all secondary schools in Derby and as a result of the work we did, Derbyshire Constabulary agreed to begin recording hate crimes against alternative sub-cultures.
The Normanton Project
Normanton is an area that has had little input from a management organisation such as Derby Homes. Working with Derby City Council, we developed a plan to increase our influence in this area.
At the same time, Vaillant UK, our central heating parter, was on the lookout for a project that enabled them to benefit one of the communities they were linked to.
We identified two streets in Normanton to focus our attention on. Working with Derby City Council, we held a makeover event over two days to help transform the streets and engage with the residents to improve the area.
This innovative makeover project went on to receive both regional and national recognition, winning awards in the building services and public sector industries.
Marble Hall Heritage Event
Osmaston is an area of Derby with a rich heritage. Working with Heritage Lottery Fund, we applied for funds to commemorate the history of Rolls-Royce in the area and give local people something to be proud of.
Working with Allenton Big Local and Enthusiasm Trust, we helped to preserve the unique history of the area. The project culminated in an event to celebrate the influence of Rolls-Royce in the the area, including a heritage booklet and a hip-hop/dance project that brought the area's heritage to life.
Parkland View: Extra-Care Management Services
Parkland View is an extra-care residential facility owned by Derby City Council, that officially opened in December 2016. This represents the first contract that sees Derby Homes managing extra-care services.
The aim of Parkland View is to provide people with a home for life. There is a mix of privately owned homes and rented apartments that are managed by Derby Homes, just like any other Derby City Council property.
There is an on-site care team that works with residents to create a plan for their individual needs. Some people might just want a hand with their cooking; others might need more specialist care. Alternatively, people might move in anticipating that they will have further care needs later in life. Ultimately, the aim is that people will be able to stay in their own homes for life. All 62 rented apartments have spacious open plan kitchens, dining and living areas, two bedrooms and fully accessible wet-rooms.
There are also a range of on-site services for residents, including:
- Therapy room
- Mobility buggy store
- Lifts to all floors
- Communal laundry
- Courtyard gardens
- Sky TV, broadband & telephone (optional)
“Because our staff are essentially working in residents’ homes (our office is in the reception area) we’re finding that we’re getting to know residents really well, and form great relationships with them. With social isolation becoming more and more of a concern amongst older people, it’s been brilliant to see how a tight-knit community has developed in such a short space of time.”
Green Thyme is a community allotment association based in Normanton. Derby Homes supported them to bring back into use a disused Council building on the park, by negotiating a peppercorn rent and coordinating contractor work in kind.
What was previously an underused area that attracted anti-social behaviour is now a vibrant community hub and the cafe has become a catalyst for the wider regeneration of the local community. Derby Adult Learning Service (Derby City Council) and local community group, Friends of Normanton Park now coordinate a variety of regular activities both at the hub and on the park.
Providing Normality for Homeless People in Derby
Milestone House is a 43 bedroom accommodation in Derby that provides a range of homelessness services. In October, SpectrumD, a Derby-based social justice organisation, opened the Milestone Outlet: a cafe and shop located on the second floor of Milestone House.
SpectrumD provides support for those affected by hate-crime and discrimination and a range of other diversity issues. The success of the Outlet has been entirely down to the passion and enthusiasm of the volunteers who run it.
It started via an existing link with Derby Homes. SpectrumD were looking to expand their provision with a project involving homelessness,and Derby Homes were looking to create something in Milestone House.
“It’s a one of a kind project” says Sonya Robotham, Chief Executive of SpectrumD, “there’s nothing else like it in the County. Many homeless shelters don’t have a space that residents can relax in during the day. Usually, people are expected to leave each morning and return in the evening. The Outlet gives residents a place of their own, they can come in have a cup of tea, get a good meal, and just have a chat. We also have residents who are starting to volunteer with the Project now too.”
The three key principles on which the project is based are resilience, self-help, and dignity. People have the opportunity to make their own choices: when they eat, or what clothes they want to buy. These are choices which many of us take for granted, but which many Milestone residents may have been excluded from making.
“It’s about providing a sense of normalcy,” says Nancy, who volunteers with SpectrumD at the Milestone Outlet, “just going into a cafe and having a browse in a clothes shop might seem ordinary, but that’s what a lot of people here at Milestone want. It’s just like going to any other cafe, but people here know this is a safe space where they won’t be judged. It’s hard to understand, if you’ve not experienced it yourself, but having somewhere to go where you’re treated with dignity is so important.”
Celebrating the people that make a difference
We manage 22 Council owned community rooms. A lot of activities take place in these rooms and their success isn't down to us. Alongside a number of voluntary groups and community partners, we decided it was time to thank the people who give up their time to benefit others.
This year, during Volunteers Week, we held our first event where we formally recognised the contribution of all the volunteers we work with. From partners, to residents and staff, everyone was given a certificate and voucher as a token of the work they do, but more importantly they were able to see that they were part of a unique group of people that make a difference in their communites.
It was a rare opportunity for everyone to come together and meet others like themselves, to network, chat, learn and feel appreciated for what they all achieve everyday.