16 March, 2023

Across Our Networks in January and February 2023

Find out what the geographic and thematic networks of The Centre have been working on over the last couple of months and find out how to get involved.

Adam Chester

HACT Network Lead

If you want to receive a copy of any of the presentations listed below, or be put in touch with the speaker, please contact Adam Chester

Join our new opportunities Basecamp here

Contact Adam Chester to join Basecamp, our online collaboration space, for any of these groups

Community Centres Network– 17th January and 7th March

There has been increased focus on the significance of community centres recently, with a lot of conversation over winter about their use as warm hubs. The Better Social Housing Review, commissioned by NHF and CIH, also called for investment in Community Hubs.

As a result, The Communities Centres networks has been holding various conversations over recent months which have been directed at making the case for more investment into community hubs. We have invited CIH to present about the review and discussed how we can link more closely to continue to make the case for the value of community centres nationally. The network has also hosted roundtable discussions about how to make the case for the value of centres internally, which KPIs organisations use to measure the success of their centres. The network also heard from Peabody about Community Hubs they are already running, and from Clarion, about how their Community Assets Team are working more closely with their Regeneration and Development teams to develop minimum standards for new community centres on their developments.

In the background, HACT have continued to map Community Centres on our Community Insight tool, and we now have over 200 mapped nationally, which will help us make the case for community centres. If you want your centre to be included on the map, please email Adam Chester. HACT are also working on a Community Hubs self-assessment tool, which will help organisations think through the different considerations that come with turning a centre into a Community Hub. If you want support with this at your organisation, please contact Adam Chester

Coming up: next date tbc

Digital Inclusion Network – 24th January

The Digital Inclusion Network heard from Millennium Community Solutions who promote assistive technology for disabled people (including this guide). They also work with contractors in Lambeth and Southwark in London to refurbish community centres for free, so that they can run coding workshops for young people from them. Contact gail@millenniumcommunitysolutions.com if you have a centre in Lambeth and Southwark that could be suitable, and they are also open to conversations about other areas where you have relationships with contractors.

The network also heard from Digital Poverty Alliance about their National Delivery Plan, which is an action plan they are working on to implement the findings from their Digital Poverty Evidence Review. Housing associations in the network were invited to ‘expert panel events’ they ran in February, to feed in their perspectives and see what role they can play in increasing digital literacy.

Michael from HACT shared results of a network engagement survey which to better understand network members’ digital inclusion offer. The results of this survey provide a way forward for the network in terms of future speakers and collaboration opportunities on digital infrastructure and telecoms rollout.

Coming up: next meeting 29th March, 2-3.30pm. Please register here.

Wales network – 26th January

The Wales network heard a presentation from Newydd Housing Association on damp, mould and the new Fit For Human Habitation legislation from Welsh Government. This was followed by a productive roundtable discussion on the best way to react to the legislation, and a suggestion of a potential collaborative communications campaign. Various useful videos on preventing damp and mould were also shared (here, here and here.)

The network also had a useful roundtable discussion about the value of community investment, and how different organisations make the case for community investment internally.

Coming up: next meeting Thursday 23rd March, 1-2.30pm. Register here

The Yorkshire and Humberside network – 2nd February and 28th February

Following on from a presentation from National Energy Action in 2022, The Yorkshire and Humberside network met twice with NEA in February to explore possible collaboration on various fuel poverty support services, such as educational events, a fuel poverty advice phoneline for housing association residents, and warm packs. At the two meetings, members of the Yorkshire and Humberside network shared their priorities and overlapping areas of work, locations of their community centres for potential events, and heard what NEA could potentially offer. Network members will meet again in late March to discuss a proposal from NEA before going back to NEA to continue discussions to get a valuable service for their residents.

Email Adam Chester if you want to hear more about this collaboration.

Northern Ireland Network – 9th February

In February and March at network meetings and working group meetings in between, the Northern Ireland Network completed work on a 16 page fuel poverty booklet, entitled ‘Your Guide To Staying Warm on a Budget’, which covers everything that residents would need to know about staying warm and saving money. From the 13 housing associations who contributed, the booklet is being distributed at the moment to 10,000+ homes across Northern Ireland by hard copy, and more by email, with plans to extend the distribution as far as possible across the country, and use the booklet to influence politicians in Northern Ireland.

Coming up: next meeting to discuss a new project, Thursday 20th April, 3-4pm. Please contact Adam Chester

Housing Association Youth Network – 27th February

HAYN met for an in-person meeting at Greater London Authority offices at London Bridge, in order to hear a presentation from the Violence Reduction Unit (VRU). HAYN’s Violence Affecting Young People sub-group is currently working with the VRU through two paid roles to make sure housing associations are included in conversations about violence. Together with other stakeholders, they are taking a partnership and public health approach to work across 8 borough, taking a hyper-local approach, including on some HAYN members’ estates, to strengthen community networks, do capacity building work with community organisations, and make sure decision-making includes young people.

We also held a meeting to understand the differing youth offers of HAYN members, and discuss their priorities for the network over the next year. We will continue these discussions at a workshop in April.

Coming up: Next meeting date tbc

East of England network meeting – 9th March

The East of England network heard from Build East, a membership organisations of 16 organisations covering 140,000 homes in the East of England, including many organisations who are also members of our network. We discussed Build East’s work on Net Zero, and especially filling the skills gap to carry out retrofitting work, and talked about the role community investment teams can play in filling that, as well as the need to work more closely with training colleges on this issue.

HACT will soon be launching a national Green Skills Network, which will run alongside a programme of work we are doing in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole to work with housing associations and training colleges to fill the skills gap in the green economy there. Please sign up to our newsletter to make sure you hear about that.

HACT is also running the Retrofit Credits project, which can bring money to housing associations for retrofitting work they do, by creating carbon credits associated with reductions in Co2 emissions. The funds from this can be used for anything, including more retrofitting, and boosting the workforce to enable the retrofitting. Please contact Antoine Pellet for more information.

We also heard from Eastlight Homes about their All In project. All In is a large community incubator programme, a multi-year initiative from Eastlight where they work with residents, community members, and local community organisations and businesses to co-design solutions to community issues. They have been working in teams in 4 places across their geography, to create community-led solutions to money management, meantal health, social isolation, and opportunities for young women. More info here and here

Coming up: Next meeting date tbc


Upcoming meetings:

Wales Network – Thursday 23rd March, 1-2.30pm

Digital Inclusion Network – Wednesday 29th March, 2-3.30pm

North West Network – Friday 31st March, 1-2.30pm

Join a network

If you would like to know more about a network or enquire about joining, then get in touch with our Head of Communities and Projects, Rebecca Rieley

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