One of the most important ways we can support our residents is by helping their communities flourish. Throughout 2019/20 we worked tirelessly with residents, partners and local groups to provide support to communities and help people live better lives.
Giving residents a voice
We’re committed to giving our customers opportunities to get involved in our work. Through our Involvement Menu, individuals can choose from a wide range of ways to engage with us, finding something that fits in with their other commitments and suits their skills. In 2019/20, 123 people engaged with us through the Involvement Menu, helping to give residents a voice and influence what we do.
Funding our communities’ futures
We have two main funding streams to support projects, events, organisations and groups in our local communities. These play a vital role in bringing people together and improving neighbourhoods. In 2019/20, the Community Development Fund benefited 23 different projects, while Community Chest grants of up to £500 provided funding for smaller initiatives and events.
In 2019/20, eight active Tenants’/Residents’ Association groups continued to provide a focal point for our communities, with the help of funding awards totalling £5.3k from Watford Community Housing.
We also carried on working with other community groups, such as Nifty Fifties – which now has 398 members and organises events and other social opportunities for people aged over 50. Another group we provided continuing assistance to was Solo Stars, which provides a support network for single-parent families in Watford and has over 240 members.
Hubs at the heart of our communities
Our hubs are also an important part of our communities and play host to an enormous range of different activities, from coffee mornings and exercise classes to violin lessons and counselling sessions.
The long-standing groups that our hubs host also continued to go from strength to strength throughout the year. The nursery based at Leavesden Green maintained its ‘outstanding’ OFSTED rating and our Nifty Fifties group has had a great response to the different events held at the Harebreaks Hub, including ‘Lou’s Moves’ exercise classes and ‘Craft and natter’ sessions.
Although the coronavirus crisis meant that these groups could not continue to use our hubs during the lockdown, we continued to work with them throughout the pandemic to help them plan for the future and ensure that they can return as soon as it is safe to do so, within government guidelines.
New additions to your hubs
In 2019/20, we made better use of our spaces by creating a new multi-purpose room at the Leavesden Green hub, which can now be used as a yoga and pilates studio. We also created a spacious new multi-purpose room at Gateway House, our office on Clarendon Road, which we will be able to offer to local charities to use as a meeting space.
The success of existing over-50s classes led us to look into other activities, and we welcomed a new ‘strength and balance’ class, which has proved very popular. Run by Stevenage Football Club, the class is particularly helpful for people recovering from operations and getting their mobility back.
Supporting people’s wellbeing is a key goal for us. With this in mind, we introduced a wealth of health-focused activities and classes to our community hubs, including a programme by the National Prevention of Diabetes Group. Held at our Leavesden Green hub, this is a preventative programme for at-risk people who have been referred by their GP, which provides practical support and advice to help attendees avoid getting diabetes. 2019 also saw the Meriden Community Centre welcome new services offered by The Living Room, which provides group therapy sessions for people with all types of addiction.
Helping people gain skills and education
As part of our commitment to creating opportunities in our communities, we continued to run training courses to help people learn new skills and get more out of life. Through 2019/20 we held a range of courses and sessions: