You’ll be aware that Your Own Place turned eight in October last year. Both a huge milestone and a source of great pride. What is often unseen beneath the veneer of glossy social media, is the knock backs, the failures, the disappointments and frustrations. I’m thrilled to say that very few of those relate to the work we do to prevent homelessness – by comparison to starting a business from scratch with nothing and with no-one, that feels like the easy part.
We have grown modestly, safely and sustainably, partly out of choice and partly because what we do is hard, time-consuming and we’ve an unwavering commitment to doing it right and very well. Continuing in this vein is plausible and almost comfortable right up until the point when I ponder the phenomenal difference we make beyond our great outcomes and numbers. More people deserve this!
Like many, Covid19 threw a curveball opportunity that has neither fundamentally changed us nor endangered us. The team is as strong as they have ever been, their ideas are getting away from me and our digital transformation (and I mean every letter of that word) was all their work.
And it was one such idea that has led to our newest and arguably most exciting new partnership with Independent East.
Jess Marsh, a fantastic and adaptable facilitator in our team, suggested a digital showcase way back in February. Homes for Cathy kindly hosted our three-way suite of webinars giving a flavour of our delivery style, values, energy and adaptability online.
Whilst the rest is not exactly history (these things take time to flesh out and refine), we can announce a new partnership with Independent East, Saffron Housing Trust Limited, Freebridge Housing, Broadland Housing Group and Orwell Housing. They make up Independent East and will be working with Your Own Place CIC to develop the tenancy and independent living skills, knowledge, confidence and resilience with 400 of their tenants. We are, needless to say, delighted to be working in this way, ensuring huge additional benefit to their residents, to the landlords themselves and our communities. Our first tenants workshops start on the 25th January and we can’t wait.
Up to this point we have been running workshops with their teams, the Project Team (IEPT), building relationships, shadowing their teams, creating referral pathways and information sharing mechanisms and crucially, co-producing an engagement strategy to ensure we reach their tenants to have an impact. Every step of the way our intention is to model our values, culture and approaches ensuring a smooth handover from tenancy officers to Your Own Place – the building of relationships is at the core of this. The project has its very own project group to oversee progress and ensure milestones and outcomes are met.
Naturally, it’s not only all this that excites us. It is what comes next where I think we share each other’s excitement. In May we brought the partnership together and it was suddenly and wonderfully apparent how much more this project was about than simply what we report in our impact reports and outcomes about financial capability. It was about people’s lives, the whole community and not just people as residents of one housing association.
The partners recognise that their tenants are people in the local community as you and I are. And so by equipping them with the skills, knowledge and confidence to keep their home, it’s not just about whilst they are a tenant with Saffron or Freebridge, but when they move and wherever they move. What we provide are not life skills, but skills for life – equipping people to go to college, get a job, leave their room and become unstuck. This is far more than tenancy sustainment and we can’t wait to get started.