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24 July 2020

Big challenges, lots of interdependencies and a different approach to developing solutions

Big challenges, lots of interdependencies and a different approach to developing solutions
In a recent blog for Cartref, Clarissa Corbisiero outlined our ‘Influencing for a better future programme’.


Phase one has just ended and it’s been a crazy few weeks exploring our values and vision and getting to grips with new whiteboard software during six virtual sessions with almost 100 staff, tenants and board members from 33 housing associations.


We gathered really great insights about the challenges we’re facing, all viewed through the lens of Covid-19, and heard from attendees about their ambitions for these challenges.


Having done this exercise in January, it was interesting to hear how people’s priorities has changed, how new challenges had come to light as a result of Covid-19 and how others had been amplified by the pandemic. The challenges were discussed and debated and following a process of refinement, and two workshops with CEOs and board members, the following five have been prioritised:


Climate change: Making homes more energy efficient


When we talk about making homes more energy efficient, we usually focus on the costs involved, the lack of a developed supply chain, tight timescales and the shortage of specialist skills to carry out the work. The focus of discussions during phase one was about the impact on tenants, with attendees asking: ‘How can we work with tenants to form a genuine partnership to make their homes more energy efficient?’ A partnership which would not only reduce our carbon footprint, but provide tenant benefits through more comfortable homes.


Ending homelessness


Over the past 15 weeks, local and central government have worked with providers across homelessness and housing services to house over 900 people - practically eliminating street homelessness in Wales. Even prior to Covid-19, we were seeing a fundamental change in approach to homelessness service provision, away from hostels and emergency accommodation towards rapid long term rehousing and Housing First.


What choices do people who find themselves in this situation have? Are they given any choice about accommodation, in areas they are familiar with? What happens if support is not available in that area? Are people who are homeless penalised when turning down ‘unsuitable’ offers of accommodation?


Connected & financially resilient communities


The economic turbulence likely to be caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, coupled with the ongoing changes to the welfare system, means supporting communities to be as financially resilient as possible is more important than ever.


Poor connectivity is often seen as a challenge facing rural Wales, but the Covid-19 pandemic has brought into sharp focus the need for the right access to digital data and information for everyday living; work, education, access to health advice, welfare benefits, job searching and social interactions to name but a few.


Joining the dots – health, housing, and social care.


The health and wellbeing system is complex and difficult to navigate, particularly for those who are vulnerable or in ill health. Trust in systems and in organisations is an important feature of finding a route through such a complex and interconnected system.


How do we design places that are age-friendly and adaptable, places where people would choose to live? How can we shape services around people?


Economic recovery – building vibrant places


A strong economy is built on the success of a collection of strong local places. Many areas have not yet recovered from the 2008 recession and others are still reeling from the economic consequences of market changes from decades preceding that.


The traditional approach of attracting inward investment from large multi-nationals has not served many of our communities well. How do we ensure there are ‘good’, well-paid, secure jobs in these communities? How do we support community wealth building where local people are responsible for local economic development which keeps money in the local area?


What’s next?


It’s clear from discussions that there are strong interdependencies between all of these themes. It’s also clear that while our members see this as an opportunity to position housing associations as part of the solution to the entrenched challenges above, we don’t have the answers. Partnership working to fully understand the problem and co-develop solutions will be the focus of phase two which kicks off this week.


How can you help?


We need you to do two things:


Book onto a Challenge Hack. An accelerated, 90-minute virtual ‘Hack’ of the challenge idea that you are most passionate about, in partnership with innovation and improvement experts Simply Do.


Whether you’re a housing association member of staff, a tenant, an expert in this field, we need you to get involved!


CLICK TO BOOK YOUR PLACE - Economic Recovery – Building vibrant Places, Monday 3rd August, 11.30am-1.00pm


CLICK TO BOOK YOUR PLACE - Connected and Financially Resilient Communities, Tuesday 4th August, 2.00pm-3.30pm


CLICK TO BOOK YOUR PLACE - Ending Homelessness, Wednesday 5th August, 2.00pm-3.30pm


CLICK TO BOOK YOUR PLACE – Joining the dots; Health, Housing and social care Thursday 6th August, 10.00am-11.30am


CLICK TO BOOK YOUR PLACE - Climate Change - Making Homes More Energy Efficient, Friday 7th August, 2.00pm-3.30pm


View the Challenge Ideas - We’ve distilled hours of discussion and oodles of sticky notes into the five challenge ideas. In addition to setting a clear ambition, there’s a short summary of the principle talking points which will provide the jumping-off point for the Challenge Hack Workshops.


CLICK HERE TO VIEW the challenge ideas and provide your own personal and professional insight. You will need to create an account to view and comment.


Yes, they’re big systemic challenges with lots of interdependencies, but no one organisation holds the answer. We’re looking forward to developing a different approach with as many people as possible to lead to real and lasting change.


More information on the programme can be found here.