Homes Plus, a Housing Plus Group company, is one of the finalists in the Resident Employment and Training category of the UK Housing Awards.
The sector’s biggest and most prestigious event showcases the best social housing providers in the UK.
As well as being a trusted provider of affordable homes, Homes Plus offers tenants free and confidential employment and money advice. It is this support which has impressed the judges of the UK Housing Awards.
Last year, 1,270 local people benefited from employment and money advice from the dedicated team. More than 30 residents who were facing the biggest barriers to employment were able to obtain work after intensive support from the advisors. Others embarked on vocational training courses for the first time.
Individual 1-2-1 employability support is available to all Homes Plus tenants
The team helps customers succeed in the jobs market through support with CV writing, interview techniques, job searching and applying for vacancies online. Training develops new skills and builds on those that jobseekers already have.
One tenant was referred to Homes Plus by a Job Centre coach. Unemployed, he lacked the IT skills to build a CV, set up an email and apply for jobs.
The team provided the jobseeker with IT support, helped him to set up an email and apply for jobs. Realising that he couldn’t afford to buy a shirt for interviews, an advisor obtained a gift voucher from a local foodbank and helped him to order two new shirts online.
Now attending interviews, the tenant says that the team has: “Helped me more than anyone ever has.”
Another tenant experienced worsening mental health following difficulties during the pandemic. With the support of Homes Plus, she got the help that she needed and went on to gain employment with the NHS. She said: “For the first time, I feel excited for the future.”
Customers helped by Homes Plus during 2021/22 were better off by a total of £2.78million, reflecting the impact of debt counselling, benefits advice and additional income from employment.
Demand for employment, training and money advice has soared, with the rise in fuel prices and the cost-of-living crisis pushing more local households to seek support and help. Head of service, Richard Potter, explains how his team has responded:
“The learning acquired in the early part of the pandemic helped us to meet increased need. Some face-to-face contact has been replaced by Zoom calls and telephone support, and we have a digital solution for accepting documents online. We have been able to increase the support that we provide because of the willingness of everyone in this team to think creatively and work differently.”
Chief executive Sarah Boden said: “Services like our free and confidential employment and money advice are what set us apart as a not-for-profit landlord determined to make a positive difference to homes, lives and communities in Staffordshire and Shropshire. I am delighted that Homes Plus has been shortlisted for this top award and very proud of our expert advisors and of the care and diligence they demonstrate every day.
“At a time when so many people are finding it hard to make ends meet, our team is here with training, coaching and advice to help tenants to boost their job prospects, avoid debt and keep their homes secure.”