For this week’s #Futures50, we’re handing over to the next of our new recruits. Patrick Fleischer-Annang is a Resident Services Support Officer for Newlon Housing Trust and is one of four new members to recently join the CIH Futures board.
As the year comes to a close and the Christmas parties begin, the Coca-Cola advert has aired and we prepare to enter one of the most futuristic-sounding years ever! (Patiently waiting for affordable self-lacing shoes and hoverboard…) I find myself reflecting on another year that’s flown by.
I joined Newlon Housing Trust in June 2017 as Service Centre Advisor and moved to the Resident Services team as a Support Officer in 2018. As many other housing professionals, learning on the job was key and every year in housing brings new challenges/wins for me. It was difficult to hone it down to five things but I love a challenge so here we go:
- The importance of reducing loneliness
Before joining Newlon, I spent some time volunteering with AGE UK on a pilot ‘Wellbeing Calling’ service created to identify current/past AGE UK members in need of support. I was pleasantly surprised to find people appreciated receiving a phone call from a stranger asking about their wellbeing. In some cases individuals were aware of services available but needed a push to reach out, one gentleman in particular turned to drinking to deal with being alone. I often think a similar service would benefit many of our residents, some turn to us as last resort and many I speak to are living alone and/or living without a support system. I have seen the difference a simple call can make, in some cases stopping anti-social behaviour. It’s important we make the daunting first steps of reaching out easier and getting those living alone to develop their own social support network.
2. Mental health in housing
According to Google Trends interest in mental health is on the rise, the graph cannot tell us anything for certain but as an optimist I like to think our view on mental health is slowly changing in the UK. This year I was shocked to hear the tragic statistic regarding the high rate of suicide in construction. ‘More than one worker a day takes their own life’
It’s clear that men struggle to find a space to talk about their feelings. More than three quarters of all suicides are by men and suicide is the biggest cause of death for men under 35. (Reference: ONS).
I was happy to hear at a recent CIH Futures meeting that Aileen Evans as the newly appointed CIH president will be focusing on mental health in housing and I look forward to supporting this worthy cause.
3. Empowering residents
There was an internal change this year that led to the resident involvement team and community services team coming together to form the residents services team. Previously I had little knowledge on resident involvement so this year has been an eye-opener. It’s great to see residents making real changes and influencing on how the Trust operates. Newlon will be celebrating Residents Forum’s 20th anniversary in December and some of the founding members (pictured above) continue to be a dedicated members of the forum.
4. Benefits of working with residents
I am very proud to be part of a team that pushes for residents to be part of their organisation. Paula Williams, our IAG officer, is pretty much a one-woman team working with residents to achieve their employment goals.
Working closely with various departments she runs a work placements programme and the majority of residents that complete the programme successful find jobs with Newlon. We were nominated for Guardian Public Service award this year for her work and it’s been great to see residents confidence develop over time and become valuable assets to the Trust.
I have seen a real difference in residents that join the organisation compared to non-residents, there is a sense of ownership that brings empathy and understanding which is incredibly valuable in service centre roles.
It’s not a coincidence that our recent quarterly satisfaction survey figures show among residents who rent from us “the ability of staff to deal with enquires” has improved by 11% since the previous quarter and for leaseholders ‘listening and acting on enquires’ has improved by 14%.
5. Resident events can be fun (even on weekends)
As the saying goes: A picture is worth a thousand words. Look at the smile on my face working on a sunny Sunday.
All jokes aside I really enjoyed this year and happy to end it joining the #FuturesFam and looking forward to a busy and fulfilling 2020!
Tell us about what you’ve learned this year using #FuturesReflects!
Patrick Fleischer-Annang — Resident Services Support Officer at Newlon Housing Trust @PatrickOdai