We know that one of the most important ways we can support residents is by helping to build vibrant and connected communities. Our work with residents, local groups and community partners enables us to provide you with skills and opportunities to help you reach your full potential.
By reaching out and talking to the people in our communities, we can deliver services to improve your local area, offer support and assistance to improve your lifestyle and create opportunities for our residents to flourish.
Offering engaging opportunities
In 2017, we launched our Involvement Menu to give you the chance to work with us to improve our services and your skills. In 2018/19 we met with 130 tenants for a face-to-face conversation about how we can offer support to help you reach positive and achievable goals for yourself and your community.
By working with residents, we have made a difference to people’s lives in a huge variety of ways. Our community engagement options enable us to support you in whatever way suits you best, whether it’s finding a place for you to help us make organisational changes, passing on career recommendations, or working with you to hold community events – such as the Women’s Day and Men’s Day that we held to help raise awareness of gender-based issues.
Investing in community groups
In order to help us reach further into the community, we support a range of specialist volunteer groups and projects, and we continue to work closely with a number of residents’ associations too.
This year, the continued hard work of the Nifty Over Fifty group, our social and activity group for people over fifty, was recognised when they were nominated for two national awards. 2018/19 has also seen the rise of Solo Stars, a friendship and support group for single parents in Watford. Originally a group set up by us, Solo Stars now has its own committee which organises and runs popular events for members and their children.
Through our funding panel, which includes residents and staff, we also funded 46 community projects using money from our Community Chest and Community Development Fund. This has allowed us to support even more people as they use their services and skills to help others.
Educating and raising awareness
By raising awareness about key issues that concern our residents, we can help to educate, share advise and encourage communities to be healthier, happier and more understanding. Some of the free sessions we delivered included a talk about autism, training on how to be a ‘dementia friend’ and information on how young people can stay safe online and in relationships.
We have also invested in training residents in essential skills, providing 23 training opportunities in 2018/19. In partnership with the Hertfordshire Adult and Family Learning Service, we arranged courses for people to improve their IT skills, develop their spoken and written English and further their first aid knowledge. We also paid for two residents to complete a Level 2 course in Housing Practice with the Chartered Institute of Housing.
Making positive changes in your neighbourhood
Every year we carry out surveys into a select group of our community areas to find out how living in your neighbourhood impacts your life and what we can do to help you. In 2018/19 we focused on the Sherwoods, Vicarage and Harebreaks areas of Watford. We spoke to residents and heard your feedback in a variety of ways, which helped us come up with a unique ‘neighbourhood plan’ for each area.
Based on your responses, we have taken action to tackle your concerns. To improve safety and communication about anti-social behaviour, we created drop-in sessions for residents to meet our Anti-Social Behaviour team and their local Police Community Support Officer. We have also started to look into funding fun activity courses for young people in each area.
Hubs at the heart of our community areas
Our community hubs give neighbourhoods a valuable resource and a focal point for residents. In 2018/19, they continued to be used for a wide variety of activities hosted by many different groups. Amongst these groups were W3RT, the Watford & Three Rivers Trust, which is now based at our Harebreaks and Leavesden Green hubs. Activities held in our hubs included sessions held as part of the National Diabetes Prevention Programme and the ever popular Christmas carol concert hosted by the All Saints Church at Leavesden Green, which saw around 150 people attend.
At the Meriden Community Hub, we helped to set up a therapy centre for The Living Room, which provides vital support and treatment for people with addictions. We also welcomed a team of volunteers from the Prince’s Trust who kindly redecorated the nursery area at Leavesden Green and the space at the Harebreaks used by performing arts group The Dan Tien, making both facilities more modern and welcoming for visitors.