Change in action: Working together on corporate planning with Greatwell Homes

19 March 2024

Change in action

In December 2023, the National Housing Federation (NHF) and Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) published a joint update on our work on the Better Social Housing Review (BSHR), one year since the independent panel made seven recommendations for the social housing sector.

Our ‘Change in action’ series of case studies highlights best practice so far from housing associations navigating the changes set out in the BSHR. If you have a question about the recommendations, or want to get in touch, please contact us.

Working together on corporate planning with Greatwell Homes

A driving force for change 

During the pandemic, Greatwell Homes worked with partners and agencies to provide residents with increased support. The organisation is part of the placeshaper network for housing associations who act as community anchors. 
The 2020 Housing White Paper and Northamptonshire’s 2021 local government reorganisation also highlighted the need to work in partnership so that our priorities aligned as much as possible.  

We were determined to build closer and more effective engagement and joint working with residents beyond housing, to achieve positive social impact. 

Staff and residents helped to identify four important principles:  

  • Effective services – that work for local people and empower communities.
  • Impactful partnerships – working well together with residents, communities and partners to increase impact.
  • Great culture – attracting talented people to work together, learn together and celebrate diversity.
  • Efficient business – driving progress towards Greatwell’s vision through effective strategies and practices. 

Colleagues also developed underpinning values of inclusion, collaboration, kindness, resident focus and adaptability, to keep the organisation’s core purpose concrete and top of mind. 

How we did it 

The board and resident assembly started by mapping our drivers for change, and analysing available information, including satisfaction data, resident and community profiles, staff feedback and an independent stakeholder perception survey. We conducted a SWOT exercise and brand positioning review. 
One key outcome was to identify challenges that could impair progress. We called this ‘the messy cupboard’, an honest and effective visual metaphor to concentrate minds on what needed doing. From this, Greatwell Homes adopted a new vision of ‘Great communities where people live well’, and worked with staff, residents and stakeholders to devise a three-year corporate plan. for the association’s 5,200 homes and 12,200 residents across Northamptonshire.  
Four supporting strategies cover: providing education, skills, jobs and health services; improving environmental sustainability; building positive relationships between residents and staff; and creating neighbourhoods where people feel safe, in well-maintained homes. Greatwell also updated its equality strategy and action plan for accreditation by Housing Diversity Network.  
The association was reaccredited by TPAS and launched an organisation-wide programme of training and guidance on the quality and style of its communication. 

Working in partnership to overcome obstacles 

Greatwell cannot meet all community needs on its own – securing the active support, expertise and resources from other statutory services, the voluntary and business sectors and local networks has been crucial.  
Key players in delivering the corporate plan include local schools, charities, churches, police and North Northamptonshire Council. 
The closure and withdrawal of many charitable and voluntary services due to public spending cuts has made the organisation’s local presence more important than ever. 

Examples of partnership working: 

  • Wellingborough LIVE – providing work experience to people with learning disabilities. 
  • A rehabilitation and work experience project with prisoners released from HMP Five Wells. 
  • Providing clothes and textile recycling collection points, as well as white goods recycling with the Salvation Army. 
  • A Safer Streets partnership project with the police in two areas, leading to reductions in reported crime and anti-social behaviour. 

60 'Green ambassadors'

Residents were recruited and trained to be local ‘Green Ambassadors’. 

12-week community programmes

Run with families, including parenting and anger management skills, food packages and creative activities.

Home aids and adaptions provided

Provided home aids and adaptions for older residents and those with disabilities through Invisible Creations. 

Measuring progress 

Some of the items from the plan that Greatwell has achieved so far include:

  •  ‘Area-based’ team working established, including digital mapping to pinpoint and monitor fly-tipping and anti-social behaviour hotspots, tree surveys and metrics to grade every neighbourhood.
  • Intensive 12-week community programmes run with families, including parenting and anger management skills, food packages and creative activities, with awards to recognise exceptional personal commitment.
  • The percentage of colleagues who would recommend Greatwell Homes as an employer increased by 9% (from 72% to 81%) and staff turnover almost halved.
  • Agile and flexible working embedded, with average sickness absence reduced by almost two days per employee per year (from 7.86 to 5.96 days).
  • 60 residents were recruited and trained to be local ‘Green Ambassadors’.
  • Providing home aids and adaptions for older residents and those with disabilities through Invisible Creations.
  • Improved monitoring, use and reporting of diversity information across the organisation and with external partners.
  • An action plan to build on Greatwell’s existing Investors in the Environment Bronze accreditation to achieve IIE Silver, and create new ‘green’ job opportunities.
  • An expanded apprentice scheme, including training roles in maintenance and operational support teams.
  • The decision to meet an identified need for extra care accommodation by redeveloping a 20-home sheltered housing scheme to provide 57 mixed tenure properties. 

Future ambitions 

The experience of delivering the plan and its supporting strategies so far has demonstrated the need to keep getting closer to residents and communities and to ensure we have accurate information about the condition of our properties – technology and data can support this further. 
Working with local agencies has been hugely beneficial, resulting in a collective impact greater than the sum of the individual parts. Greatwell is committed to continuing and building on these partnerships, particularly with the unitary local authority to minimise planning delays. 
We recognise the need to further embed equality, diversity and inclusion best practice throughout our services. 
Tracking progress against all the objectives in our corporate plan will help ensure consistent, sustainable achievement, and most importantly, ensure that we’re reflecting back on the Tenant Satisfaction Measures and what residents value most. 

'Working with local agencies has been hugely beneficial, resulting in a collective impact greater than the sum of the individual parts'