Annual Report April 1st 2013 – March 31st 2014

Open
the door on our performance

12,780 homes,
600 staff and
365 days

A year in the life of Helena Homes

2013/14 has been a busy 12 months for our organisation, our customers and our communities. It’s fair to say a lot has happened. Here are just some of the highlights.

The year
in pictures

  • Families enjoying our Playstreets events

  • Les Andrew trying archery at our men’s health event

  • Young people taking part in our Helena Youth Voice event

  • Flying the flag for diversity at Liverpool Pride

  • Mayor of St Helens Cllr Andy Bowden opens our Fairbrothers development

  • Rose Bennett taking part in our internet training courses

  • Children learning about the environment at our Green Base

  • Jane Lowton and Brian Hughes at our Making A Difference Awards

  • Having a good time at our Operation Good Guy event

  • Thelma Connolly, Jean Thompson and Maureen Twist at one of our Christmas parties

  • Children turning trash into toys at a recycling event

  • St.Helens R.F.C Mascot St Bernard joins our volunteer thank you event

Your homes
are where our
heart is

Thanks to a process of improvement and modernisation and an investment of £8.3 million, we’re pleased to say that 99% of our homes now meet the Government’s Decent Homes Standard.

We’re committed to creating affordable homes and thriving communities

£13,000,000

was spent repairing homes. This is broken down into £6,200,000 on routine repairs maintenance and £6,800,000 on scheduled maintenance

£8,300,000

was spent on major repairs to improve homes

314

homes have benefited from external wall insulation; this has saved 25% on average to customers’ utility bills

147

solar thermal insulations completed

We help our customers stay in their homes for longer

217

major property adaptations were made to help people with disabilities to remain at home

901

smaller property adaptations were made to enable people with disabilities to live independently at home

£546,000

was spent on adaptations

£259,000

was received from the local council to help fund adaptations

£805,000

worth of works carried out in total

We are always there to put things right

98%

of emergency repairs were completed in our target time. This puts us in the top 25% of similar housing associations

92%

of responsive repairs were completed right first time against a target of 93%

Helena-Charts-04_Your-Homes-1

To reduce the need for repeat visits and to tackle more jobs ‘first time’, we’re multi-skilling our operatives. We’re also working hard to keep you better informed of which repairs are happening and when.

91%

of customers were satisfied with our repairs service against a target of 94%. This puts us in the top 50% of similar housing associations

Helena-Charts-04_Your-Homes-2

Satisfaction with repairs remains positive but we know there’s room for improvement. We aim to provide a timely and professional repairs service and your feedback helps us make changes and meet expectations.

100%

of homes had a valid gas safety certificate

56

new homes were built but our target of 132 remains on track

Read more from Helena customers and staff

"I’ve had many jobs done by Helena Propertycare and I can’t fault them."

“I’ve had many jobs done by Helena Propertycare and I can’t fault them. You don’t expect a social housing provider to offer a first class service but that is exactly what they do. I thought they would just bang things in but they do everything properly.

Until I retired I was a plumber and engineer and took pride in my work. I can see they do too. In fact, I’d rather have Helena staff do my repairs than a private firm.”

Bruce Lyell, Customer

"Every morning I push a button to let them know everything is all right."

“Every morning I push a button to let them know everything is all right. If I forget, then they ring me to check. It’s good to know that there is somebody there. They call it OK Each Day and that is exactly what it is for me.”

Jenny Knowles, Customer

"I was having difficulty getting in and out of the bath so Helena installed a shower for me. It has made a big difference to my quality of life."

“I was having difficulty getting in and out of the bath so Helena installed a shower for me. It has made a big difference to my quality of life.

“Not only was I delighted with the results I was over the moon with the workmanship and politeness of the chap who did it. He was 100% respectful.”

Rose Bennett, Customer

"Helena has done a lot to improve the appearance of the block of flats I live in."

“Helena has done a lot to improve the appearance of the block of flats I live in. The new doors and entry system have made it very secure and the communal stairwells are now really light and bright. I used to think about moving away but now I’m very happy, I’ve got a great home and good neighbours too.”

Geoff Lane, Customer

"It was so important for me to buy my own home for myself and my daughter."

“Helena Living helped turn a dream of owning my own home into a reality. Through a shared ownership scheme I was able to get a 50% share in a lovely two bedroom
new-build home for just £60,000. I will be able to take on further shares as time goes on until it is 100% mine.

It was so important for me to buy my own home for myself and my daughter. It’s a home for life where she can grow up and an investment that will one day be hers.”

Nicola Scull, Helena Living Customer

Read more stories from Helena customers and staff

How your £1 adds up

We believe that value isn’t just about how much things cost, but how much good we can do too. That’s why we monitor every pound we spend across all our activities and carefully measure the effect it has.

Helena-Charts-04_Pie-Chart

11p

Major repairs and improvement projects on properties

12p

Day-to-day repairs in response to customer requests

13p

Planned maintenance and improvement works like gas servicing or repainting

3p

Services including grounds maintenance, caretaking, communal heating and lighting

2p

Tailored support services for vulnerable customers

23p

Management costs for offices, staffing and the delivery of our services

10p

Other Social Housing activities

2p

Non Social Housing activities

12p

Annual depreciation charge

11p

Interest on loans taken to fund property improvements and to build new homes

1p

Other

Helena-Charts-04_Your-Money-1

Four out of five customers are satisfied they receive good value for money for the rent that they pay.

Helena-Charts-05_Your-Money-2

The rents that we charge compare favourably with other housing associations in St Helens. Customer feedback suggests they believe we provide a good quality service at a competitive price.

Read more from Helena customers and staff

"I feel that some estates get a lot spent on them while others do not."

“I would like to see Helena be more transparent in the future about what they are spending, where they are spending it and why they are spending money there. I feel that some estates get a lot spent on them while others do not and we are not getting a fair share.”

Thomas Finney, Customer

"I feel much happier and confident and am so grateful that they were there to support me when I needed them most."

“My husband had always dealt with our finances and since his death Helena has helped me so much. I feel much happier and confident and am so grateful that they were there to support me when I needed them most.”

Christine Caughlin, Customer

"Customers appreciate that we can’t do everything but what they do want is for us to take the time to listen."

“Expectations are rising among customers and this can lead to more complaints and levels of dissatisfaction. At a neighbourhood level we are addressing this by moving towards a more consistent approach so that no one is seen to be getting special treatment.

Customers appreciate that we can’t do everything but what they do want is for us to take the time to listen to what they are saying and talk about what we can do and what their own responsibilities are.”

Neil Fairhurst, Neighbourhood Manager

Read more stories from Helena customers and staff

Last year we answered 168,675 calls

Our customer service centre, One Call, is one of the busiest parts of our business receiving, on average, 700 calls a day. We set ourselves performance targets to ensure we’re the best we can be. We know we don’t always get it right, that’s why we react and respond to every complaint we receive. Here’s how we’re doing:

Helena-Charts-04_Your-Services-1

According to our customer satisfaction survey, STAR, 87% of customers are satisfied with our services. Surveys like STAR show us where we’re doing well, where we’re not and help us to improve.

95%

of your calls dealt with right first time, against a target of 91%. This puts us in the top 25% of similar housing associations

Helena-Charts-04_Your-Services-2

This is how we measure our performance in One Call. It helps us ensure that we respond to your enquiries efficiently and effectively.

282

complaints, down from 379 last year

54

complaints about not meeting your expectations

54

complaints about not keeping you informed

46

complaints about unexpected delays in delivery of service

We value customer feedback and continuously learn from you. Here’s what you thought about our complaints handling:

Helena-Charts-04_Your-Services-3

When it comes to dealing with complaints, we set ourselves strict targets. We aim to keep you fully informed and updated, especially if we can’t resolve matters within our target time.

55%

of customers were satisfied with our complaints handling. This puts us in the bottom 50% of similar housing associations

97%

of complaints were dealt with within 5 days, against a target of 95%

87%

of customers were satisfied with the overall service we provide

1,734

homes let, including mutual exchange and housing transfers with an average time of 44 days to let our empty homes

Read more from Helena customers and staff

"The key to good service is having empathy with the customer and seeing things from their point of view."

“We handle a high volume of calls and no call is the same. People come on about all sorts of things, from worries about their finances through to anti-social behaviour. One Call is often someone’s first point of contact so the key to good service is having empathy with the customer and seeing things from their point of view.

A true complaint involves failure to meet our service level agreements rather than dissatisfaction with Helena or incidents of anti-social behaviour, which are dealt with differently.”

Lisa Ramsdale-Leigh, One Call Advisor

"I’ve only been here for a short while but I feel this is the place I belong."

“As a health support worker in London every penny I earned went on my living costs. It was after talking with friends from St Helens about this that they recommended Helena as a good, affordable landlord and the town as a great place to live.

I went through the Helena website looking for properties that were available to rent immediately, and within no time they were able to offer me some great choices.

I’ve only been here for a short while but I feel this is the place I belong.”

Garcia Gordon, Customer

"We have always set high standards here and our customers expect a lot from us."

“I am a joiner and locksmith by trade but while working at Helena I’ve become multi-skilled. This approach cuts out a lot of wasted time and unnecessary home visits too, for example I can repair a window myself without having to work with or wait for a glazer.

Customers want us to get things right first time. That’s why we are multi-skilled, it means we can get through more work and are more flexible with appointment times. We’ve also started using smart phones to record jobs, take pictures, reduce admin and speed up the flow of information, as well as completing training in customer care and safeguarding vulnerable people.”

Mark Lyons, Chargehand

Read more stories from Helena customers and staff

Places you can be proud to live

We know that the safety and appearance of our neighbourhoods is a top concern for our customers. Along with rent, it’s one of ours too. Here are just some of the ways we’ve tried to improve our places:

£600,000

We invested £600,000 in our communities to help customers into work and training and to reduce
anti-social behaviour

775

nuisance cases were resolved. That’s 61 cases on average for every 1,000 properties that we own. We’re committed to supporting those experiencing anti-social behaviour and continue to work closely to tackle these issues

60%

of customers were satisfied with the outcome of anti-social behaviour cases, putting us in the bottom 25% of similar housing associations

114

activities delivered to young people across St Helens via the Make it Happen project, which is funded by the Big Lottery

98%

of rent was collected against a target of 94%

Helena-Charts-04_Your-Neighbourhood-1

3%

of rent arrears not paid on time by our customers against a target of 4%. This equates to £1,941,589 in the year

Helena-Charts-04_Your-Neighbourhood-2

Although this is better than our target, rent arrears continue to be a challenge and customers risk losing their home. If you are struggling to pay, the sooner you act the sooner we can help you sort things out, whether this is drawing up a money management budget or a plan to help you pay back any arrears.

44 Days

It’s been taking longer to let our empty homes, on average 44 days. Not only does this mean we lost around 2% of our rent income, it put us in the bottom 50% compared to other housing associations

Helena-Charts-04_Your-Neighbourhood-3

Through our New Markets team we are making good progress to maximise opportunities and have so far let 108 homes to new customers

£339,000

was spent supporting people through Welfare Reforms and helping them find work, get online and access affordable credit

75

customers helped into work

300

residents involved in our activities

Read more from Helena customers and staff

"Our philosophy is to always go the extra mile for customers, to always do something extra."

“When customers come into Helena, they can be hopeful, worried or angry. Our philosophy is to always go the extra mile for customers, to always do something extra. It is our job to make sure that they leave with a sense of satisfaction and that something has been done for them.

One of the big parts of the job now is helping tenants to use our free internet service. There’s a lot of fear, especially among older customers, about getting online but we are here to help alleviate that.”

Rob Noon, Customer Caretaker

"Work like this helps bring people together who would be very lonely otherwise."

“I’ve been impressed by the work Helena has done on the West End Road community centre. They’ve made it a lot better looking and opened up more space for activities which makes it easier to socialise. There is always lots to do there and we enjoy the activities.

Work like this helps bring people together who would be very lonely otherwise and I do hope that Helena will continue to invest in the community in this way.”

Janet Thomas, Customer

"Working together with partner agencies to provide positive activities has proved very effective."

“The people we talk to in our communities tell us that a lot of anti-social behaviour is down to the fact that young people have nothing to do and nowhere to go. Working together with partner agencies to provide positive activities has proved very effective.

Not only do those who take part have a lot of fun, it gives us the chance to engage with people about their neighbourhoods and help people understand how anti-social behaviour affects others in their community.”

Tanya McGibbon, Community Engagement Officer - Young People

"One of Helena’s top priorities is to help our tenants get into work or training."

“One of Helena’s top priorities is to help our tenants get into work or training. This improves their lives, circumstances and makes it easier for them to pay their rent.

We are removing the barriers customers face in getting jobs, helping them fill in applications, brush up on interview skills and even giving grants for things like uniforms, travel and qualifications.

We’ve also had brilliant successes with local employers too, giving our tenants the chance to prove themselves and to get a head start in the job market.”

Roy Williams, Neighbourhood Employment Coordinator

"Doing this job is all about being on the customer’s side so they can tell us the information we need and then help them the best way we can."

“I deal with low-level arrears and last week I dealt with 280 cases. Doing this job is all about being on the customer’s side so they can tell us the information we need and then help them the best way we can.

Many customers are glad to work with us because they recognise we are trying to help. Some have no idea they have fallen behind. For those who are struggling we refer them on to our tenancy support team to see if there are ways of saving money and boosting income. If customers are in serious debt, I put them in touch with specialist services like Stepchange.”

Justin Mash, Rents Intervention Officer

"Consultation is the key, and we will be constantly challenging them to find ways to do more with less."

“We realise that the funding cuts and things like Welfare Reform make it harder for Helena to do as much as they did in the past but we don’t want the high standards they have become known for to drop. Consultation is the key, and we will be constantly challenging them to find ways to do more with less.”

Marlene Newman, Customer, Tenant Board Member and Tenants and Communities Committee Chair

"Helena needs our local knowledge and our insight into how things work, and together we are making things better."

“It is essential that tenants have a say in how services are delivered. The old idea was that the organisations ‘knew best’ but this does not work and can be counterproductive. Helena needs our local knowledge and our insight into how things work, and together we are making things better.”

Jennie Williams, Customer and Value Improvement Panel Chair

"Our main priority is Helena’s green spaces but we are going further now and looking at Helena’s stock and new build schemes too."

“We volunteer to be Environmental Inspectors because we care about the places we live in and want to make things better, not only for us but for people in the future. We’re working all the time, wherever we go, giving comments on appearance, how work is progressing and what needs improving.

Our main priority is Helena’s green spaces but we are going further now and looking at Helena’s stock and new build schemes too. Tenants should have environmental concerns and use any opportunity they can to get Helena thinking that way.”

Bob Williams, Customer and Environmental Inspector

"It’s all about planting seeds, not just in the ground but in people’s minds."

“The Green Base is such a great place as it attracts people in and gets them interested. The best part is passing on your skills and knowledge to others and then seeing them using what they’ve learned.

It’s all about planting seeds, not just in the ground but in people’s minds. Introducing kids to gardening means that they will hopefully develop an interest in growing things and a passion for their wider environment too.”

Ste Ledgerton, Green Base Volunteer

"We are the next generation of customers and so it is right that our voices be heard."

“I joined Helena Youth Voice because we are the next generation of customers and so it is right that our voices be heard.

Since I’ve joined I’ve done lots of fun things, like taking part in Olympic legacy events, taking on the role of a ‘Mystery shopper’ and doing a work-experience placement for the Tenancy Sustainment team.

Helena Youth Voice has set me on a good path for the future and in return I think we have given Helena good insight into what young people think of their services.”

Yasmin Billinge, Member of Helena Youth Voice

"Switching to a weekly bidding cycle means that waiting times are reduced."

“Customers told us that that they found it frustrating that newly available homes were advertised every two weeks. Switching to a weekly bidding cycle means that waiting times are reduced. At the same time, surveyors have been given tablet computers so they can instantly arrange for work on empty properties to take place and ensure customers get their keys that much quicker.”

Tom Bate, Voids Partnership Manager

Read more stories from Helena customers and staff

Passionate about our plans

We’re not just here to build and manage homes, we’re committed to regenerating communities, creating opportunities and improving people's lives both now and in the future.

270

homes will benefit from external wall insulation this year making them greener and more energy efficient

1,400

new homes will be built by 2017, 80% of which will be for rent while the remaining 20% will be for sale through low cost ownership schemes

80%

We aim to have 80% of customers transacting with us online by 2020 making services faster and more convenient

50

properties will be converted to suit customer demand following the changes from Welfare Reform

£7,000,000

in additional funding will support the development of 394 new homes

£1,000,000

will be invested in empty properties to reduce the impact of Welfare Reforms

"It has been a hugely productive year for Helena and we have made giant strides in our efforts to transform the way we deliver our services so that they are fit for today and the future."

“It has been a hugely productive year for Helena and we have made giant strides in our efforts to transform the way we deliver our services so that they are fit for today and the future.

Our focus remains on providing great homes and services but changes to the financial environment, opportunities offered by new technology and rising customer expectations have given us the chance to look at everything we do and work out ways of providing even better value for money.

Looking to the future we are revamping our governance structure to give customers and stakeholders a stronger voice, stepping up the building of new homes, creating new commercial partnerships and entering into talks with Golden Gates Housing Trust of Warrington about forming a group structure.

I am proud of the efforts staff have made to transform the way they work and am confident that the plans we are making now will mean that customers will continue to receive the right services at the right times, especially those who need us the most.”

Rob Young, Chief Executive

Your feedback is really important to us.

So, if you have any thoughts or would like a copy of our annual report highlights, please let us know:

Email: annualreport@helenapartnerships.co.uk
Phone: 01744 637383
Facebook: TheHelenaCommunity
Twitter: @HelenaPartnersh

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