As Chair of PlaceShapers, I’m proud to launch ‘We Care’ which this year focuses on all the things we do to care for people and our communities. To kick off our campaign we wanted to explore what ‘we care’ means to our members, and how this translates into the range of caring activities they engage in on a daily basis.

So we asked around 20 of our member chief executives to give us some insight through a structured, in-depth interview. We also gathered nearly 200 personal stories and case studies from across the country – 29 of which are in this initial report. The results are compelling – we’ve begun to uncover the true scale of our work, the breadth of caring services we provide and the impact we’re having on people’s lives, every day.

Our caring services

Over the last 20 years or so, housing associations have evolved to become much more than just landlords. Whilst we take great care in providing high-quality homes that are safe and well maintained, we also focus on the people who live in them, working with them and our wider partners to ensure we provide what’s needed.

We offer a range of support services to help make lives better. We help people find jobs, gain life skills, apply for benefits, live more independently, lead healthy lives and access specialist services for more complex issues.

But what’s become more evident, through this research, is the sheer scope and diversity of the work we’re doing to support our communities.

Most of our members talk about child poverty, homelessness, social isolation and poor mental health being amongst the challenges faced. They say they’re seeing more food banks, more breakfast clubs, more rough sleepers, more people in debt, more social isolation and, in turn, are developing their services to respond to these needs.

What we’re doing – above and beyond

Working with our partner local authorities, the health service, community groups and other charities, we’re creating innovative, integrated services. What’s even more encouraging is that many of these services are being provided to whole communities, not just our own tenants. We really are going above and beyond by reaching out to more people, supplementing statutory services and filling in the gaps where needed.

So what puts us in a good position to deliver more of these caring services?

  • We’re driven by our social purpose – we genuinely care, and we attract staff who are motivated to make a difference to people’s lives
  • We’ve got the right resources and capacity to make sure we provide high-quality services that give value for money
  • We’ve got the expertise – we’ve tried and tested different approaches to get the best outcomes for people
  • Our track record of partnership working means that that we design and offer collaborative services that are valued by those who depend on us
  • We can access funding for new services that others might not be able to
  • We recognise the crucial role our tenants and customers have in shaping our services and the need to adapt our approach in response to feedback.

And how can we evidence this? By showing you what this means on a day-to-day basis across the country. What follows are 29 case study examples that begin to show how we care for people and communities, grouped under five key messages. We think these stories speak for themselves and hope you agree.

Sinead Butters
Chair, PlaceShapers