THERE is no doubt the last year has been a bumper year for us, and it's great that our achievements are being recognised at a national level.
So says Isobel Riley, chief executive of South Tyneside Homes, the arms length management organisation (ALMO) that manages the housing stock for South Tyneside Council.
The ALMO has as its vision “Working together to make South Tyneside the place people are proud to call home”. Its ongoing Decent Homes improvement programme, thriving green agenda, award-winning apprentice programme and a current new-build housing scheme in South Shields are making that vision a reality of regeneration.
In the last financial year, the company, along with its partners Frank Haslam Milan, Gentoo and Dunelm, brought more than 4,000 homes up to the Government’s Decent Homes standard, completed more than 3,000 single to double-glazing upgrades and provided over 700 new roofs. The work is surging ahead, and this September saw the launch of the company’s £40m “non-traditional“ programme.
“It is one of the largest and most ambitious schemes of its type in the country”, says director of Investment Mark Whittle, “with 1,816 non-traditional homes benefiting from a range of improvements that could include new kitchens and bathrooms, full house rewires and repairs to roofing and guttering.”
Additionally work is now under way on the construction of four two-bedroom older-people’s bungalows in Dorset Avenue, South Shields, with the company’s property services workforce carrying out the work for the council.
Whatever work it carries out, South Tyneside Homes is committed to helping the environment.
“We are committed to helping make the borough as environmentally friendly as possible,” says chief executive Isobel. “The new-build bungalows will be equipped with ground source heat-pumps and solar-powered water heating systems. The Decent Homes work has also seen us installing more than 4,400 new energy-efficient heating systems, and our development team has overseen the installation of environmentally-friendly fixtures in over 50 homes in Hebburn and South Shields that will help them to generate a lot of their hot water for free.
We recently published our Green Guide which was full of tips and advice that will help tenants to both save money and reduce their carbon footprint.”
The company’s green initiatives have helped it to win a regional award for carbon reduction from National Energy Action. The prize was presented at the House of Lords earlier this year.
South Tyneside Homes continues its successful apprenticeship training programme, and this September seven new recruits began their training in a variety of trades. The success of this scheme led to the company winning the Large Apprenticeship Employer of the Year Award at the 2010 CLASS Awards held at the Sage in Gateshead.
The company is much involved in working with schools and partners to improve the skills and knowledge of young people in the borough.
Director of housing John Musson said: “Economic regeneration must include young people. Our Involvement and Income Teams work closely with local schools and partners like Blue Venture to get youngsters involved in activities such as thinking about planning their personal finance and their own entrepreneurial spirit for the future.
“We aren’t resting on our laurels”, concludes Isobel. “We are on a journey to excellence and in these economically uncertain times the only course to follow is innovation, effective partnership approach and maintaining a consistency of excellent service.”