Freephone: 0800 027 2057
Welcome to the latest edition of Home News Extra.
Home News Extra is here to give even more news from Acis.
Here you'll find videos, infographics, links to handy advice and more.
In this edition you'll find:
Volunteers helping to transform rural Lincolnshire schools were among the big winners at our annual Our Heroes awards
Following scores of entries and a lengthy judging process, the awards were handed out at a ceremony in Gainsborough. The awards celebrate great gardens, good neighbours, fantastic young people and people doing their best to enhance communities.
The Wonderful Neighbour of the Year award went to Don Pyle, who volunteers at St Mary’s Primary Academy in Welton. Originally volunteering to listen to some of the children read, he now regularly spends his time renovating and breathing new life into outside areas to help the children learn and play.
He said: “I’m so surprised. To even be nominated let alone win it; it’s come completely out of the blue. I just do what I like to do and help the kids where I can.
“I just like the school to look nice and welcoming to people. I just wanted to add a bit of colour to the place. I could do with twice the time though! By the time I’ve read with the children and done the gardening and other odd jobs they day’s over.
“I was gobsmacked when I found out I was even nominated. I don’t think I’ve done anything exceptional. Anyone else who likes to volunteer would be doing the same and that’s what I’d recommend to anyone.
“Anybody, no matter what your age, if you’ve got any spare time for the school it’s very much appreciated. The kids love you, the teachers love you and you can make a difference.”
Janet Wright from Tealby picked up the garden guru award. She said: “It’s amazing. I’m so pleased. I’ve not had the garden that long so it’s very pleasing to win.
“I love gardening. It’s very therapeutic and keeps me out of mischief. I was so surprised because there’s a lot of lovely gardens out there that people have done a lot of work on.”
Archie Smith from Gainsborough scooped the Young Person of the Year award for his work around the community, helping vulnerable people with various errands. He said: “I’m very happy. I was a little embarrassed but I’m happy.”
Maria Neall from Blyton won the Positive Change award – a new category this year – for her relentless work in helping to transform the playground at Blyton-cum-Laughton Church of England School. On winning the award, she said: “I’m so shocked but very happy. I’m surprised because the other two nominees were very good with what they’ve put into their community.”
Claire Woodward, Head of Marketing at Acis, said: “We had so many fantastic entries this year and it was really hard to whittle the nominations down to just 12, never mind pick winners from them.
“It’s great to see so many people doing so much to make their communities a better place. At the ceremony, we heard so many stories of people going the extra mile for others – being wonderful neighbours to each other, helping out, transforming schools, being there for people. They really are our heroes.”
For more information about our winners and shortlisted entries, see our Our Heroes page here
Our Wonderful Neighbour award winner, Mr Pyle, was delighted to have won the award at this year's Our Heroes awards. Hear from him here.
We like to celebrate our customers as much as possible and one of the great parts of our jobs here is meeting all different people.
This week, we went out to visit a very special customer.
One of our Area Service Managers, Adelle, went out to surprise a customer who was celebrating a big birthday.
Mrs Houghton of Saxilby was in celebratory mood as she turned 105 years old.
Already surrounded by cards and flowers from her friends and family, Mrs Houghton was pleasantly surprised to see us and proudly showed us a birthday card she received from the Queen.
Mrs Houghton, who has been living in her Acis home for the last nine years, said: “It’s such a nice surprise to receive something from Acis.
“I’m very happy and satisfied here. Thank you”
Adelle, who’s patch covers Saxilby, said: “This is the part of my job I love the most. Making people happy.”
Early in 2019 the #Iwill project was launched in the Woodthorpe area of Sheffield with the aim of bringing young people together to deliver positive action.
The project helps local young people to develop new skills and be a part of something that will benefit their community – gaining a sense of achievement.
#Iwill also provides a route to preventing crime and anti-social behaviour – directly working with those who may be engaging with or affected by gang culture.
The #Iwill team has identified community projects that matter to the groups of young people and their local community, working together to provide a solution to localised concerns.
Already the team has undertaken an improvement project on the local youth club, painting it and improving its external appearance with planting and gardening work.
#Iwill is also nurturing the youth workers of the future. Equipping them with the skills needed for a successful career in helping and advising other local young people.
By providing gold star work experience, together with support to undertake and achieve a youth work qualification, the innovative programme provides a legacy that continues far beyond the length of this project.
This week we held our Party in the Park day, inviting local residents to head down and get involved in some fun activities at the Levellings in Gainsborough.
We were delighted to be joined by local partners to provide fun and informative activities during the summer holidays.
Around 100 local residents attended the event on Wednesday 7 August and were also treated to lunch thanks to support from Affordable Foods Gainsborough.
Partners, including Gainsborough Trinity Foundation, Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue service and Connexions Community Hub were on hand to provide music, entertainment and information throughout the event.
Erica Watkins, Area Service Manager at Acis, said of running the event: “It was great so see so many families come down and enjoy the day.
“We want to engage with our communities as much as we can so keep an eye out for more events to get involved with.”
A big thank you to all our partners who came down on the day:
We're working alongside multiple partners across Lincolnshire, West Lindsey District Council included, in an effort to SCRAP fly-tipping.
Fly-tipping is an issue that affects us all - that's why we need to fight it as a community. The SCRAP camapign is all about informing people about what fly-tipping, how to report it and what the fly-tipping penalties are.
SCRAP stands for:
Report anyone fly-tipping at firstname.lastname@example.org
Look out for future updates as we tackle fly-tipping together!
The project which saw our fantastic apprentices refurbish a whole house has been shortlisted for a prestigious national award.
Our ten apprentices renovated a three-bedroomed semi-detached property in Ingham, near Lincoln during a project devised to help them develop their skills in a hands on environment.
And as a result of its success, the project has now been shortlisted as one of the three finalists in the Project Achievement category at the Institute of Asset Management Awards.
As part of our commitment to upskilling local talent and creating our own pipeline of tradespeople, we recruited ten apprentices in 2018/19.
On the back of a very successful project working alongside Lincoln College involving apprentices refurbishing rooms within houses, we developed and delivered a much larger, ambitious project to renovate a whole house using their team of eager-to-learn apprentices.
Apprentices from across the organisation were involved – including non-trades such as marketing, IT, HR and commercial. All supervised by a senior member of our trades team and managed by our Talent Delivery Manager.
The apprentices started from scratch, removing old kitchen and bathroom units, ripping off walls and ceilings and installing new electrical and plumbing systems. They also levelled the floors, tidied the garden, erected new fencing and fitted new carpets.
Local firms also gave up their time and products to help deliver the project on time and on budget.
This project provided apprentices with considerable evidence for their portfolio in addition a great work experience. Working on this project contributed 95% of the evidence the apprentices needed for their qualification, providing an amazing opportunity to boost their practical knowledge and a priceless experience for their careers. It also helped to enhance the skills of the trades engineer working with the apprentices throughout the project.
Jill Dickson, Acis’ Talent Delivery Manager, said: “We have worked with Lincoln and Gainsborough colleges and our apprentices on our empty properties before but never on this scale. What we’ve achieved here is off the scale.
“It started as an idea to give our apprentices an opportunity to develop their skills, but it grew into a huge project.
The awards will be handed out a ceremony in London on 27 November.
Our Accelerate project is about much more than just employability skills. We are here to help people change their lives in positive ways, whilst keeping employment at the front of their minds. From full time work to simply giving you the confidence to meet new people, Accelerate is here for you.
We appreciate that people may have different needs when it comes to employability support and Sharon, our Customer Support Officer for Accelerate, can do just that!
Dean, a customer who heard about Accelerate through his work coach at the Jobcentre, got in touch with Sharon to help find training courses.
Low on confidence, Dean approached Sharon for the help and guidance he needed to gain the skills and confidence so he could be ready for mixing with people, gaining social skills, training and, ultimately, work.
Sharon helped Dean with introductions to training providers and find and enrol onto courses to suit his needs as well as supporting small changes such as improving his CV.
The improved confidence Dean gained through Accelerate not only helped his employability, but his social life too. He joined the Pathways group and built up his confidence to attend their coffee shop, making new friends along the way.
On the impact Accelerate has had on his life, Dean said: “It has given me something positive to look forward to and has helped me gain new experiences and social skills.
“I hope to continue to see Sharon as I have ambitions to keep building my confidence and take further courses and training.”
Sharon said: “I look forward to seeing Dean and we have built up a good rapport.
“I have noticed that his confidence has improved over the time he has been on the programme and has worked hard in attending and completing all the courses that we had planned for him to do plus making friends along the way.”
We are leading on a new and unique programme to tackle youth unemployment in West Lindsey.
The Youth and Employer Support (YES) Programme is here and will bring a new twist to employment programmes.
Not only will the programme help local young people aged 16-30, it will also offer a dedicated employer support service.
By offering a free hands-on service, the YES programme will support local employers to recruit to and sustain long-term employment opportunities for young people.
The four-year programme, in partnership with Voluntary Centre Services (VCS), is funded by the National Lottery Community Fund, the largest funder of community activity in the UK.
The the aim is to create sustainable opportunities and tackle the youth unemployment rate in the region.
On the launch of the programme, Hannah Taylor-Dales, Service Development Manager at Acis said: “We’re delighted to get the YES programme started. It’s an exciting concept and we can’t wait to engage with local young people and employers to tackle youth unemployment.”
Heather Arnatt, Area Coordinator at Voluntary Centre Services West Lindsey said: “We’re pleased to bring our skills and experience to this new partnership. We feel passionately about offering something different to young people in the area, to address the issues that really matter and help them to set their own path.”
The National Lottery Community Fund distributes money raised by National Lottery players for good causes. Last year it awarded over half a billion pounds and supported over 11,000 projects across the UK for health, education, environment and charitable purposes. To find out more visit www.TNLCommunityFund.org.uk
For more information, call Acis on 0800 027 2057
People are settling into their new homes on our new over 55s development in Saxilby, Lincolnshire.
We partnered with Lindum Construction to develop 60 new homes off Church Lane in the village.
Customers started to move in from May 2019, full of praise for the properties and the area.
Christine Peate, 78, bought her home outright. She said: “I absolutely love it here. It feels like home already.
“I have lived in Saxilby since 1971. It’s a nice friendly village, it’s got all the amenities, a bus service, a good school, a good doctor’s and it’s not far from Gainsborough and Lincoln.
“Buying through Acis, everything was fine. I did it all by myself. I saw the homes on the internet and thought ‘they look nice’. We had a walk up, had a look around and went back home to put my house on the market. It just feels right.”
Peter and Denise Storr moved in after purchasing a share of their home through our popular shared ownership scheme.
Peter said: ““We used to own a property in Caistor before renting in Lincoln. We wanted to get back to owning something and this was the ideal opportunity.
“Caistor’s a lovely village and we lived there for nine years. Lincoln was convenient for us but we wanted to get back to a village environment.
“We hadn’t thought about shared ownership before but it’s great. It gives people an opportunity to settle into their own home, especially with pension pots not being what they once were. The process is very straightforward.”
Denise added: “We have friends and family locally. My sister lives nearby too now – she saw what we were doing and followed us.
“The quietness of the place is nice. The thought of going back onto an estate with lots of noise wasn’t appealing.
“It’s an ideal size – perfect for two people to live in and have people around.”
Karen Owens, 57, was successful in bidding for one of the rented properties. She said: “My mum lived in Oaklands and she was struggling, so she’s managed to get something here as well. It’s great to be close by – it makes a big difference. The housing association were amazing.
“Saxilby has got everything that you want in a village. Where I lived before, if my car broke down I’d struggle to get out and go to work. Here, I can get on a train or bus. I’ve got everything I need. And the area is nice too, I can go walking around.”
Friday 19 July saw the launch of our Great Expectations research report.
Taking place at the Showroom cinema in Sheffield, we were joined by 50 attendees from the housing sector to present and discuss the findings.
We worked with seven other housing providers and research professionals Service Insights to produce the report which focuses on what social housing customers’ true expectations of great service looks like.
Attendees including, TPAS, The National Housing Federation and the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government were in attendance as we presented the findings.
Hannah Taylor-Dales, Service Development Manager at Acis said: “We were delighted to be able to share our report with so many people from the sector.
“We hope that people can use the findings and start to take it forward to make sure our sector is doing all it can to put customers first.”
Find out more and download the research here
In July, we launched our latest research report – Great Expectations.
We worked with seven other housing associations and spoke to almost 6,000 social housing customers to hear what they expect from good customer service.
The main finding was that more than four out of five people (82%) expect the same level of service as they do from other companies, such as Amazon or Royal Mail.
But what do we do with this information? Well, we learn.
Our first step is to make sure we live and breathe these findings on a daily basis.
We have been using this research as the subject of internal training sessions where our people came along to learn about the findings and how they can make a real difference day by day.
And we’re not the only ones to do this. We’re delighted to say that our partners in the research, Orbit, have also been using the findings to educate their staff further to make a positive impact.
Furthermore, Sheffield-based Arches Housing attended our launch event in July and were inspired to share our research with their people as well as it influencing a consultation process with their own customers.
Over the next weeks and months, we will be sharing more around what we and other housing associations are doing to make sure we are listening to these findings as a sector to continue to improve our service.
If you or your housing association has been influenced by the Great Expectations research report, let us know by emailing email@example.com
To find out more about the research or download the report, you can find it here
Our Great Expectations research has told us what you, our customers, expect from customer service. You told us the top ten most important things to make our service great are:
We’re taking this on board and making a few changes to how we work in your community. Our customer contact centre remains your first point of contact and the team can help with most queries.
Our Neighbourhoods teams will be taking a more targeted approach to their work after listening to your feedback focusing on tenancy and neighbourhood issues. Some small changes will see our Area Services Managers (ASMs) given more time to focus on their patches to give more support to those who need it.
If you have a slightly more complex query or issue, please contact us or we can arrange to call or visit you. If you want to see your Area Service Manager you will need to book an appointment.
One of these changes is that our ASM will no longer be dealing with rent account enquiries. If you do have any enquiries around your rent accounts, you can get in touch with our contact centre team on 0800 027 2057 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and they will be happy to help. We also have a dedicated income management team in place to support you.
Keep an eye on our website or on Home News Extra for more work we are doing in line with the Great Expectations findings.
Our Chief Executive, Greg Bacon, spent the night in the cells on Friday 25 October.
In aid of Alexander’s Journey, Greg handed himself in to Lincolnshire Police to raise funds for Alex’s treatment.
Alex has a rare form of cancer called Ewing's Sarcoma in his right femur and is raising money to get treatment both in the UK and in the US.
The cancer, which tends to affect the bones of children, has left Alex in constant pain since Christmas 2015 and forced him to use crutches since April 2016.
So following his working day on Friday, Greg took himself to Lincolnshire Police to spend the night in a cell.
On arrival he was handcuffed and put in a holding cell with the other detainees involved in the event.
He was then met by Alex’s sister Sophia who helped searched him, took his fingerprints and processed him for his night away.
After this, Greg was locked away in his cell for the night for the full experience.
On his night behind bars, Greg said: “I’m pleased to say I was released without charge!
“It was hugely uncomfortable spending the night on a 1cm thick foam mattress and constantly waking to the noise of the doors being closed.
“But it was a great experience for a brilliant cause. Our people have been quick to raise almost £500 to put me away. I’m sure there’s a compliment in there somewhere!”
For more information on this event and the cause, follow @Alexs_journey on Twitter
We are proud to announce that we have committed to major investment to improve efficiency of our repairs and maintenance service, Prime.
In partnership with Days Fleet, almost 80 new vehicles will hit the roads to carry out repairs and improvements on our homes by July.
After feedback from customers and its engineers, we committed to reviewing our vehicle fleet and now it has come to fruition.
We have also worked in partnership with Bott Ltd to fit out the new fleet with racking and utilities specific for each work stream.
These improvements mean the vans, which have been branded by Elite Signs, will now be properly equipped to get each repair done at the first time of asking, reducing the need for a return visit.
Greg Bacon, Acis’ Chief Executive, said: “This is a big step forward in improving our repairs and maintenance service for our customers.
“We are very excited to make this change which keeps our customers’ needs at the forefront of our decisions.”
The partnership with Days Fleet will also help improve the performance of our repairs and maintenance service by managing the fleet of vehicles. This means, amongst other benefits, that should a vehicle break down, a replacement van will be available to use, saving the need to wait for the van to be fixed.
Aled Williams, Managing Director of Days Fleet said: “Days Fleet continue to be proud to secure the funding and fleet management for another public sector organisation and are delighted to assist Acis with their vehicle requirements.”
Deborah Stewart-Downs, Head of Business Development at Bott LTD said: “We are delighted to be able to collaborate on this key initiative with Acis, working together to design and equip vans to support safe and efficient daily working.
“The in-vehicle storage will assist in the organisation and visibility of tools and parts, reducing time wastage and helping the drive towards customer service excellence within the Prime team.”
Our new fleet project team was based at Elite Signs in Gainsborough throughout the roll out process.
Clive Anderson, Managing Director of Elite Signs said: “The sign writing of the new fleet has been quite a logistical challenge with four vehicles per day throughout May being completed by Elite. The Acis project team were based at Elite throughout the roll out and we are delighted to say this sizeable project has gone extremely well.”
This project forms just one strand of our major transformation project, which is aiming to revolutionise the way we work.
As an organisation we keep our people and customers’ wellbeing at the forefront of what we do.
Back in March, our people voted to make Mind, the mental health charity, our Charity of the Year for 2019/20.
Mind are a mental health charity who provide advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem.
So we are committing to supporting the charity with our fundraising activities this year.
These activities will include internal campaigns such as dress down days, bake sales and various other initiatives.
To find out more about Mind and what they can do to support you if you or anybody you know are struggling with mental health, check out their website www.mind.org.uk.
Over the last few weeks we've been collecting selection boxes and other sweet treats to donate to the Salvation Army as part of their food parcel drive.
Continuing with our annual tradition, one of our Area Service Managers, Erica has delivered over 40 selection boxes earlier today.
She said "I would to keep this going and be able to provide a few little treats for those less fortunate than ourselves."
The Salvation Army will be using these as part of their food parcels for those less fortunate this Christmas.
We are delighted to welcome a new director into our executive leadership team.
Mark Jones takes up the position of Director of Property Services and will oversee our busy development pipeline and repairs service Prime.
He joins the organisation with a wealth of knowledge, having worked in the social housing sector for more than 30 years.
Joining from Lincolnshire Housing Partnership, Mark also brings significant experience of transformation and service improvement.
On joining Acis, Mark said: “I’m delighted to be joining the Acis team.
“I’m looking forward to working with my new colleagues to work towards the organisation’s clear objectives and continue our goal of delivering for our customers”
Mark Joins Chief Executive Greg Bacon, Director for Customer Excellence Paul Woollam and Finance Director Adrian Chamberlain on our executive leadership team.
Greg said: “We’re very pleased with Mark’s appointments and are looking forward to seeing the value he can bring to the role. His knowledge and experience will play a huge part in our growth plans.”
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