Focusing on potential, not problems – Our new approach to housing services

At Hafod we’ve embarked on an exciting journey to transform how we deliver our housing services. We are changing our approach to focus on more personal engagement with tenants and working with them to identify individual and community potential.

Our team of Neighbourhood Coaches now deliver a more holistic service in a move away from our traditional housing and income officer roles. Our coaches now manage a smaller numbers of homes, enabling them to spend more time on building relationships with tenants and getting to know what’s going on in their communities.

This change of approach was based on customer insight which highlighted a real disconnect between what we thought our tenants needed and what they told us they wanted.

The evidence suggested there was little trust, our services were largely reactive and we were responding to problems. Contact was remote, often reliant on sending impersonal letters, and this lack of face to face contact was a huge barrier in understanding what was important to tenants.

The information we gathered showed that in recent years we had lost touch with our tenants. We were working to standardised KPIs - measuring the negative, not the positive - with very little understanding of what was going on in our tenant’s lives.

We were aware of the challenges posed by Welfare Reform, the reduction in support services and a range of other factors but we were following processes rather than offering support.

Our new approach sees us focusing on our relationships with our tenants, building mutual trust and helping to identify and prevent issues before they arise.

We are moving away from being a paternalistic landlord to a coaching role, supporting tenants to sustain their tenancies and recognise their strengths and talents and achieve personal goals.

This re-think in service delivery has not been without its challenges. Over the past twelve months our housing team have undertaken a huge amount of training to enable them to move from being specialists to providing a more wrap around service.

In addition to offering traditional housing services, our coaches connect people with local resources, events and social activities, employment and training opportunities and health and well-being initiatives.

The role-out of our coaching model started in June 2019 and we are already seeing the benefits.

Positive results include tenants completing training courses and well-being programmes and overcoming isolation by joining social groups and getting to know people in their communities. Some of our most serious rent arrears cases are also reducing and all because tenants feel able to approach us and ask for support.

We’re hugely optimistic about the difference our coaching approach can make and so far, so good. We’re happy to share our journey and what we learn along the way so please get in touch if you’d like to know more.

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