Social housing setting new welfare standards

Posted on 28 Oct, 2021

Housing associations play a pivotal role in the property market. Unlike estate agents and private landlords, the social sector offers a holistic service that goes far beyond providing a roof over someone's head.

Many social tenants are from life’s most vulnerable groups, with sensitive backstories and complex relationships with society. All the same, housing associations recognize their needs and are taking a more innovative approach to accommodation, with better welfare in mind. 

Take for instance, HSPG. This social housing investment company is working to repurpose vacant retail spaces into much-needed new homes. One of its latest projects is the conversion of a former William Hill betting shop into five supported apartments, specifically for the victims of domestic abuse. Another comes in the shape of an old Lloyds TSB being redeveloped to house those at risk of homelessness.

More challenging circumstances often go hand-in-hand with poor mental health and it is encouraging to see social housing leading the way when it comes to improving provider/tenant relationships. 

In response to the statistic that around one in three social housing tenants in rent arrears are also experiencing mental health problems, Grand Union Housing Group - together with Mind and the Chartered Institute of Housing - has produced a guide to supporting tenants with mental health issues.

As well as useful advice on staff training, communication and management, there are ‘good news’ stories within the guide, showing how progress is being made when it comes to tenant wellbeing. For example, social housing provider Stonewater has changed the wording of its arrears notification letter to remove harsh language and to include more empowering terminology, following feedback from tenants. Elsewhere Curo housing association has pledged to find ‘person-centred’ solutions to rent arrears – ideas that are more flexible, affordable and discretionary.

The welfare of tenants has rightly moved to the top of the housing agenda but it’s great to see that housing associations themselves are looking introspectively at the wellbeing of their own staff. It’s an area where Grand Union Housing’s focus continues. The company has recently introduced the offer of brainworking recursive therapy (BWRT) to help all employees struggling with issues, including anxiety, PTSD and grief.

The company-wide initiative follows BWRT working for one Grand Union Housing employee, who had particularly struggled with her mental health during the pandemic. The housing association stepped in with the suggestion of this particular treatment after things got so bad that their colleague found themselves experiencing a breakdown, unable to function and living on the streets. 

The BWRT therapy was able to address issues in a very short space of time – many of which had gone unresolved for 13 years, despite other therapies and interventions being involved. The wider adoption of BWRT is the brainchild of Grand Union Hosing’s Chief executive, Aileen Evans – the driving force behind the 'Shine a Light on Mental Health' series.

Viewber is proud to be part of property's proactive approach to better mental health. As such, we have just had our first member of staff become a fully-trained mental health first aider. If you’d like to support your property team by working with our viewing and inspection assistants, contact us today. 

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