The awards, which recognise outstanding work by housing organisations to improve the lives of people in their communities, are organised by the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) and Inside Housing magazine.
Now in their 18th year, this year’s awards attracted more than 250 entries from all over the UK. Unity Housing is now one of six left in the running for the ‘Small Social Landlord of the Year’ Award.
Unity’s has been nominated for the award owing to the success of its Employment Service which offers a bespoke service to individual tenants to help them access the training and qualifications they need to find work. The Employment Team work largely, but not exclusively with Unity’s tenants. In 2012/13 the team helped 85 people access training, work or voluntary work. So far in 2013/14, the team has helped a further 68 people, meaning that they could surpass last year’s performance.
Mrs P is an example of a tenant who has benefitted from the Employment Team’s expertise. Before meeting the Employment Team Mrs P had been suffering from agoraphobia for almost twenty years and never worked anywhere for longer than a month. The Team helped develop and build her CV, confidence and understanding of job markets and what roles she could do. She has completed IT courses and with the Team’s support has attended several interviews. She has since secured a voluntary placement within the mental health sector.
The introduction of a dedicated Financial Inclusion Service also helped secure Unity’s nomination. Unity’s Financial Inclusion Officer provides advice and support relating to debt, budgeting and welfare.
Ms S is a tenant who highly recommends Unity’s Financial Inclusion Service: ‘The Financial Inclusion Service was brilliant. I have difficulty leaving the house due to my illness but the Financial Inclusion Officer took the time to visit me at my address and to talk about my situation. He listened very carefully and helped me to fill in the paperwork I needed to prove that I needed an overnight carer. Thanks to him, my worries about having to pay for my spare room have been alleviated and I have been able to remain in my home.’
CIH chief executive Grainia Long said: ‘The UK Housing Awards recognise the excellent and innovative work being done by organisations and individuals across our industry, but perhaps more importantly they help to push up standards and provide inspiration. We all have to do more with less and there is always room for improvement when it comes to providing the best services for residents. We hope the stories behind all the shortlisted finalists will give housing organisations the opportunity to learn from each other.’
Stuart Macdonald, editor of Inside Housing, said: ‘The quality of the entries rose again this year so even to get this far is an amazing achievement. In the face of some really stiff competition, Unity Housing Association has shown it is performing at the highest level – well done!’
The winners will be revealed at a ceremony at the Lancaster London Hotel on 29 April and Marcus Brigstocke has been approached to present the awards. The awards are sponsored by Campbell Tickell, H + H and Higgins. Last year over 650 people attended.