Thursday, 5 March 2009

East North East Homes Leeds shortlisted for national accolade

A new scheme that trains people with learning difficulties so they can then provide painting and decorating services for elderly or disabled residents has bee shortlisted for a national award.

Michelangelo’s Mates, an initiative by East North East Homes Leeds’ (ENEHL) and charity Avalon, has been shortlisted for an award by the National Federation of ALMOs (NFA) whose 69 member organisations oversee more than one million council-owned properties across England.

The scheme has been shortlisted in the Most Effective Partnership category because of its original approach to working with charities to providing paid employment and work-based training to people with learning disabilities, in the form of apprenticeships.

Through the scheme, a small team of people train as apprentices in painting and decorating, with the possibility of working as sub contractors for ENEHL, helping tenants in need or redecorating empty properties in preparation for new tenants.

All work is quality checked by ENEHL and, in some cases, work by Michelangelo’s Mates will replace grants given to tenants to decorate their homes themselves. The qualifications and training methods are tailored to the needs of each participant, and are carefully designed to help trainees find employment once they are fully qualified.

The ‘Most Effective Partnership’ category recognises effective projects brought about by well managed relationships across the public, private and voluntary sectors. The awards ceremony will take place in York on April 1 as part of the NFA’s annual conference.

The awards were judged by an independent panel comprising Roy Irwin, the Chief Inspector of Housing at the Audit Commission Housing Inspectorate; Janet Dean of the Dean Knight Partnership, Adviser to the Improvement and Development Agency (IDeA) and the Homes and Communities Academy, Michael Gelling, Chairman of the Tenants and Residents Organisations of England (TAROE) and Jane Gething-Lewis, Editor of media partner 24housing.

Angelena Fixter, chair of the East North East Homes Leeds board, said:
"To be shortlisted for this national awards is a fantastic achievement in itself and a tribute to the brilliant work being carried out to provide training and support for people to have a real career opportunity."

Roy Irwin, NFA Awards judge said:
“Housing is about people and not just bricks and mortar. There are great things happening in this community, East North East Homes Leeds has demonstrated that involving their residents in day-to-day decisions has huge impact on the wider neighbourhood. It also proves that local solutions are required and it is no longer acceptable to have a ‘one size fits all’ approach in social housing.”

Dennis Rees, NFA Chair, said:
“This year the NFA awards received an overwhelming response and the quality of entry was excellent. 2009 is proving a difficult year for many but the ALMO framework is continuing to go from strength to strength providing support to its residents on the issues affecting the whole country.”

Janet Dean, of the Dean Knight Partnership, Adviser to the Improvement and Development Agency (IDeA) and the Homes and Communities Academy, said:
“We have seen some very creative ideas, high levels of energy and skill and above all a commitment to housing and local communities, upon which ALMOs are really starting to build their reputations. The achievements of staff, residents and Boards are all crucial to delivering the kind of responsive high quality services that represent the best of social housing.”

Designed to honour and credit the individuals and teams who do so much at ground level and beyond, the awards have been developed to recognise and celebrate the hard work and achievements of ALMOs – which manage more than one million council homes, over half of all council housing in England.

Notes to Editors:
East North East Homes Leeds
is one of three Arms Length Management Organisations (ALMO) which manage and maintain council housing on behalf of Leeds City Council. It is wholly owned by the council, which retains ownership of housing stock and sets rents.
East North East Homes Leeds manages 19,000 council-owned residential properties in Boston Spa, Burmantofts, Chapel Allerton, Chapeltown, Collingham, Gipton, Halton Moor, Harehills, Linton, Meanwood, Moor Allerton, Moortown, Seacroft, and Wetherby.

The National Federation of ALMOs promotes the ALMO option in council house management which provides housing management and housing services to more than one million council properties across 69 ALMOs nationwide.

For media enquiries, please contact;
Michael Molcher, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 224 3937

Council saves £30,000 by cutting back on bottles

Switching from using water coolers and bottled water to tap water has saved Leeds City Council more than £30,000.

The council has cut the number of bottled water points by almost half, slashing massively the amount it has to spend on providing fresh water to its employees and people using its facilities.

The move was agreed in December after council officials found little justification for the use of bottled water machines, given the environmental and financial disadvantages.

Water coolers will remain where it is impractical to install plumbed-in supplies, but so far 35 bottled water units have been removed from council offices and many more are going from all council establishments.

The benefits are more than just financial – bottling and transporting water creates CO2 emissions so switching to plumbed-in supplies reduces the council’s carbon footprint. The council has also been encouraging staff to cut down on using plastic cups for water, instead bringing in a glass from home or sourcing paper cups.

A review of bottled water points across the council found many should be replaced and it is being established whether more switches can be made in the future, in particular in customer areas where bottled water points are very difficult to replace.

Cllr Richard Brett, deputy council leader and executive board member for finance, said:
“I am very pleased that we have, where practical, replaced bottled water with tap water – there is no need for us to rely on water supplies being brought in from elsewhere when we have a perfectly drinkable supply from the tap.
“There is not just a financial cost to bottled water, there is also an environmental one and it is important that the council does everything it can to reduce waste and ensure it is as environmentally friendly as possible.”

For media enquiries, please contact;
Michael Molcher, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 224 3937