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2019-2020 ANNUAL REPORT
Contents A word from our chair 3
Luton Lets Squared 12
Meet the board 4
Homes Squared 5
General needs (independent) 5
Property Developments 14
Maintenance and Repairs 13
Purposeful Employment 15
Cleaning and Gardening Squared 17
Open Minds 19
Marketing and Communications 22
People Excellence (HR) 20
Financial Accounts 24
Squared Annual Report | 2019-2020 2
Mr Glyn Early Chair, board of directors
Tackling issues A great example of this is the launch of Luton Lets Squared, our joint venture with Luton Borough Council. You can read on page 12 how this new kind of housing agency aims to help people on low incomes to secure better-quality rental accommodation.
Our housing team is in the process of being integrated into one department to help us provide seamless support to customers. And we continue to work closely with our customer involvement group to find more ways for our customers to influence the things we do.
We’ve also been working with the police, other housing associations and support groups to tackle issues such as anti-social behaviour, domestic violence and drug trafficking. While a variety of partnership projects are helping our customers, EU migrants and other local people to gain the education and training they need to reshape their lives.
Moving forward with meaningful work A key focus for this year has been developing our Purposeful Employment service (see page 15). It’s designed to help people develop the confidence
and skills to secure employment that really means something to them, beyond being just a job. It will provide a wide array of opportunities for our customers, including education, training, coaching, advice and business start-up support.
Investing in our team Our team has also been strengthened this year. We’ve appointed a permanent Marketing and Communications Director to ensure our activity in those areas pays dividends for our customers and community. We’ve enhanced our digital team to enable us to communicate, collaborate and support customers and team members more easily, wherever they’re working. To build on performance and efficiency our Maintenance and Repairs team has also undergone a number of changes this year. And our HR team, now known as our People Excellence team, continues to provide a wide range of support to enable our people to be the best they can be.
As we move into a new world where future realities are less certain, we feel well placed to handle what life throws at us. And to help our customers build the capabilities and resilience to progress and thrive.
A word from our chair
Squared Annual Report | 2019-2020 3
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This year started in much the same way as most years, unbeknown to us what was in store. No one could have predicted the unprecedented times we have found ourselves in and the impact Covid-19 would have. Fortunately, we were very well set up for agile working at Squared enabling many of our team members to work from home relatively easily during the lockdown period.
Below outlines some of the highlights from last year.
Meet the board
Glyn Early Glyn is a retired managing director of a longstanding family building firm and brings practical experience of house building and public service contracts, as well as local knowledge and an interest in supporting local charitable organisations. He joined the Luton Community Housing Board in 2012 and become our chair in May 2019.
Passionate about inspiring lives and committed to providing affordable housing in Luton and South Bedfordshire, our board provide a wealth of experience and knowledge to help guide Squared forwards.
Peter Rickard Peter has been a tenant with us since 1971. He joined our board as a tenant representative in 2007, bringing practical experience of being a tenant.
Iain Smith Iain joined the Board in 2017 after taking early retirement from his job at Hampshire County Council. For the bulk of his career he worked as a solicitor in local government initially specialising in commercial property. Iain has also worked for Councils in Glasgow and Manchester. He has extensive experience of leases of various types of commercial property and regeneration projects. During a career break he obtained an Ll.M. in European Union Business Law at the University of Amsterdam. As an Independent Custody Visitor, Iain visits police custody suites to report on the treatment of detainees.
David Cheesman David spent many years as Head of Research at the Housing Corporation (now Homes England). He’s been a visiting professor at Sheffield Hallam University and is now a policy adviser at the Financial Conduct Authority. David has lived in Luton since the 1980s and was our chair from 2011 until 2018.
Mostaque Koyes Mostaque is a director of a leading local business and has a wide network of influential contacts. He became an official board member in May 2017. By sharing his experience, Mostaque aims to make a sustainable difference to Luton residents.
Sarah Markham Sarah works for Luton Borough Council (LBC) as Head of Housing Operations and has also been a trainer. She has previous experience of working within other housing associations too and joined our Board in 2012.
Vinod Tailor Vinod, a former High Sheriff of Bedfordshire for 2017- 2018, has lived in Bedfordshire since around 1972. He worked in the banking and financial sectors for 40 years, and is involved in several organisations in Bedfordshire, London, India and Africa. Vinod is an active member of the community and is very interested in local affairs. He became an official board member in May 2018.
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Working together for a stronger future
Homes for Independent Living
As one united housing team, we can ensure a smoother transition for customers when they’re ready to move from homes with support to homes for independent living. We’re also working with other people and groups to improve how we support our customers and communities.
Collaborating for improvement We invited a consultant to review our policies and procedures, this year, making them clearer for team members and customers to follow. We’re also working with our new Property Maintenance and Facilities Manager to streamline services and our new Employability Development Manager to help our customers find fulfilling roles.
Keeping customers involved Customers are helping us to improve too. Our customer involvement group has continued to hold regular meetings and evolve this year and we are anticipating there will be even more opportunities for our customers to be involved in the future.
Following customer feedback from our Star survey, Robert Allen Court is now supported by three Squared team members. This allows us to spend more time with our customers, including individual weekly visits (or phone calls), two individual visits per year from their Customer Relationship Manager as well as bi monthly group meetings to discuss any current issues and share any future plans.
A joint approach to anti-social behaviour We’ve been working in a task group with the police and other housing associations to tackle anti-social behaviour in affected areas. We’ve also added security gates to some of our blocks of flats to prevent and deter anti-social behaviour further. This year we’ve successfully obtained one injunction due to anti-social behaviour, three other cases were also received and closed during the year.
Help stop drug supply in its tracks County Lines is a project we’ve focussed on this year to help the police break down the lines of supply for banned drugs in Bedfordshire. County Lines is a policing term used to describe a model adopted by certain organised crime groups for the distribution and supply of drugs.
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Tackling domestic abuse together In February 2020, we launched a campaign to raise awareness of the support available to victims of domestic abuse. We ran a workshop with Luton All Women’s Centre, which led to a customer moving forwards with her life after years of abuse. We also supported two other victims of abuse too.
We aim to continue the campaign this year. This will include training our team members to help them identify people who may be experiencing domestic abuse and understand how to hold the difficult conversations it may involve to support them.
Increased online access We continue to encourage people to use our online customer portal, which makes it easier for customers to access their rent account, request transfers and register compliments and complaints. To date, 249 customers have registered, and we’ve had good feedback on how easy it is to use.
*Names have been changed in the following success stories.
Together, in the right home Sarah was renting one of our one-bedroom flats. Due to health issues, it became unsuitable for her and would have left her housebound. She temporarily moved in with her partner, who was caring for her, in another housing association property. But this wasn’t suitable for her disabilities or large enough for the family.
When a l