in tune Longhurst Group Business Briefing
issue 5 Spring 2010
Definitely upbeat in Content Highlights
Cash for conversions p2
L&H launches new care service p3
Linking business and education in
Promises progressing in Rutland p4
phenomenal; we more than doubled the A Call to Armes p5
value of grant funding in the programme
On target for first-class
and delivered about one per cent of the total
national house building programme for development p6
2009. Together with the private finance we Points make prizes with new Spire
borrowed as a group and through our scheme p8
development partners, we estimate that
around £140 million worth of investment
services; peer input to services; and
was ploughed into homes, communities and
communications skills from running
jobs across the midlands and eastern regions
organisations where there is both
– no mean achievement. By working
collaboration and genuine autonomy. So
With the election results imminent as we go together we all get something extra – more
we’re always open to approaches from
to print, many housing professionals are money, more jobs and more opportunities.
partners who feel our skill set will be of
contemplating the future of the sector. As
Our group member companies also benefit in supporting their objectives.
housing was not at the centre of political
considerably exceeded their targets for new
debates, it’s unlikely that any new Clear purpose
homes, so in the coming year there will be
government will have major spending plans Of course, some things are consistent in this
in place for some time. lots more housing opportunities for our
customers. Plus of course, many extra jobs in world. At Longhurst Group, we never lose
But at Longhurst Group, we’re still upbeat the communities where we work – so we’re sight of the services we’re delivering –
about the future; because we believe that doing our bit to stave off the recession. And whether in financial inclusion, repairs and
our valued long-term partnerships with working hard to deliver added value across maintenance or support to our members.
company members, development specialists our business means that we can provide And we set excellence standards that our
and local authorities represent solid additional services, of an even higher quality. team can aspire to and deliver.
foundations for sustainable growth.
We’re currently working towards Investors in
Strong skill set
Thank goodness the sector has moved on Excellence accreditation, and are confident
Our chief executive’s office is already starting of reaching this mark. To make the grade,
from the day when partnerships were seen
to generate more time and space for we’ll need to prove the effectiveness of some
as predatory or threatening; these days,
business opportunities. That almost sounds
hopefully everyone we work with agrees that key fundamentals, including our approach to
like a Doctor Who reference; whilst there
collaboration achieves positive, inspirational risk management, high-quality HR services
are no sonic screwdrivers involved, the team
results. That's certainly our intent. and a finance system that delivers prompt,
is highly-qualified in many things so I guess
accurate reporting. In short, strong systems
there are parallels!
Phenomenal results are fundamental to our success and it’s no
Even in these uncertain times, there are In particular, we have a lot more to offer accident that we’ve been working towards
some things that we know will happen as a prospective organisations in terms of this for some time.
result of our business strategy and hard work experience and available talent. Things like
last year. For example, the development management of cultural change; funding for
programme for both the Blue Skies development; the ability to lead Bob Walder
Consortium and Longhurst Group was organisations; provision of back office Chief Executive
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‘ello, ‘ello to
Fear of crime on what was The knock-on effect has
Worksop’s most burgled been substantial, according
street has been slashed, to Lisa Birch who led the
thanks to a pioneering project for L&H Homes.
project between She said: “Our survey with
Nottinghamshire Police and residents shows that they
Longhurst and Havelok are very satisfied with the
(L&H) Homes. work completed, and
we’ve had many comments
Six months ago L&H Homes showing a powerful
residents in Yeoman Close appreciation of the project.
were identified as suffering By working together we’ve
the most burglary incidents helped reduce crime levels,
per population in their and through working with
town. To address the residents and showing we
problem, the crime listen, we’ve also tackled
reduction manager and some long-standing issues
L&H team agreed to start a around waste management
project to boost security. on the estate.
Thanks to the partnership, “With welcome packs now
all 53 homes and flats benefited from extra security measures on on hand for new households on the street the project continues to
their front and back doors, new alarms and letterbox cages. The generate results. We’re now set to launch it in another
materials were funded by the police, with L&H Homes providing the neighbourhood, working with the council, police and other social
labour and managing liaison with residents. landlords.”
Additional measures have also helped to improve the look and feel of The success of the project has seen it entered for a national award,
the estate. These include installing signage, adding new steel fencing, and the partnership approach is set to be replicated across the county
contacting Eon to clear graffiti and gaining funding to improve the by Nottinghamshire Police.
previously ‘open access’ drying area.
Cash for conversions
Friendship Care and Housing has secured funding larger new homes and bring empty homes back
to convert flats and bedsits in Birmingham into into use.
much-needed homes for larger families.
“Previously we had to sell a property to fund a
Through its partnership with Birmingham City couple of conversions. We’d only do this with stock
Council, the association has attracted more than that’s not worth investing in long-term, but it’s still
£500 thousand in Working Neighbourhoods Fund a drain on social housing resources.
cash. This money will help to convert houses in
multiple occupation (HIMOs) into family homes. “So this funding is a real boost; it means we can
afford to bring another 10 large properties back
Jonathan Driffill, the association’s managing into use for families. And from experience, we
director, said: “One of the city council’s key know that once the properties are let, turnover is
housing partnership objectives is to increase larger minimal; so we’re also helping to create more
family housing, with four or more bedrooms. We’re stable communities.”
helping to make this happen, both by building
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new care service
At a time when the topic of care for older customers a personalised service. So
people is high on the national agenda, extending our care provision to a wider
Longhurst & Havelok (L&H) Homes has audience was a natural progression.”
launched a new domiciliary care service “It’s all about establishing trust and stable
across north-east Lincolnshire. working relationships, which is really
important; after all, people are receiving
The new arrangements, aimed at the over- highly personal support – such as being
65’s and people will physical disabilities, helped to wash, dress and eat meals as
will provide flexible help to customers. For well as going shopping and paying bills.
example, someone needing a period of Having the same carer over a period of
respite support in an L&H care home could time makes it easier for people to feel
then go home and be helped by the same comfortable; and staff will also spot any
carer, rather than having to adjust to a changes in a customer’s wellbeing much
new person. And customers don’t need to more quickly.”
live in an L&H property to receive the services; any older or vulnerable
resident in north-east Lincolnshire can apply, regardless of who owns Nationally there is a clear shift away from large-scale contracting with
their home. providers, and towards individuals having much more control over
designing and paying for the services they receive. So it’s the perfect
Robin Barr, director of care, support and community services at L&H, time to launch this service. As Robin concluded: “We’re developing
said: “We already have a strong track record for our care home bespoke, responsive services that we know are in line with our
provision – with our schemes achieving three-star ratings under the customers’ needs and aspirations. And increasingly that will be a very
Care Quality Commission, and 100 per cent user satisfaction. important factor in our line of work.”
“We wanted to bring the quality and ethos of these services into a The new service has been through all the relevant registration
community setting, focusing on continuity of care and offering our processes with regulators, and is set to launch at the end of April.
Linking business and
education in Lincoln
The memory of an admired colleague has seen Longhurst Group forge a new partnership with the
University of Lincoln.
Former ICT director Brian Cooke’s passion for training and offering opportunities was a key stimulus in
establishing strong links and project work with the university and its students (pictured).
As a result, Longhurst Group is sponsoring an award for the most improved ICT final year student, as well
as looking to offer in the future year-long placements for an under graduate.
“We’d wanted to build links with the university for some time, and by marking
Brian’s achievements through a student award, we’ve been able to build a short
and long term partnership which will hopefully enable us to meet our
sustainability strategy and our commitment to leading and inspiring growth”,
explained John Fletcher, HR Director.
Brian Cooke, Former ICT director
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Friendship Care and Housing has secured an impressive £2.5m Alongside this
contract from Birmingham City Council, to provide care and success, the
support services under the Supporting People framework. association has
The contract win includes servicing a new short-term independent the size of its existing housing and floating support services to
living contract for people with learning disabilities. The council clients with mental health problems and learning disabilities.
identified a range of service users who need support, including:
teenagers in transition to adulthood who need to move into their Mark Askey, director of care and resources, said: “This is great
own homes; people living with ageing parents who need support; news, not only for our existing support services, but for the
and customers moving out of residential care and nursing homes business as a whole.
who could live in the community with extra help.
“Our whole ethos is around providing high-quality care and
Friendship has been contracted to provide 50,000 hours of care to support to vulnerable people in communities, especially people
these client groups. The first stage will involve providing short- with learning difficulties and mental health problems. These wins
term focused services that give users ‘taster sessions’ of different prove the strength of our services, and we’re delighted the
living options available. Then over the next 12 months, the commissioners recognised this when awarding the contracts; it will
association will work alongside commissioners, service users and secure our future in care and support for some time to come.”
their families to develop the new service.
Promises progressing in Rutland
If a week is a long time in politics, five months making immediate visual impact. The makeover. As different schemes have
seems like an eternity. For Spire Homes, the association has also started to install new different needs, Spire is working with
same period of time has represented an fencing, commence a major kitchen and residents to plan and deliver what’s most
opportunity to make a big impact. bathroom refurbishment programme and important to them.
replace central heating systems.
Since homes transferred from Rutland Service improvements
Council in November, the association has Resident input has influenced the quality of Apart from home improvements, Spire
ploughed ahead. Director of business services fittings (such as soft-closing doors and 38mm Homes is also working hard to deliver other
Lynn Stubbs points out: “From day one worktops). Choice is also key; people can pre-transfer commitments, and its
people were on the ground delivering the create their own unique look, right down to achievements to date include:
improvement programme.” items like handles and surfaces. With
bathrooms, tenants can choose colour • Introducing a dedicated tenancy support
schemes. Older residents can opt for a bath service to help young or vulnerable people
with shower over, level-access shower or a • Launching a new text service so people can
shower cubicle with low-level lip. contact the association and give feedback
• Offering new rent payment methods
Lynn explains: “Supporting tenants through through the national Allpay scheme.
improvement work is really important,
because there are many elderly and New initiatives planned for later this year
vulnerable residents needing assistance. So include developing a handyperson service,
our dedicated liaison officer is making sure reviewing grounds maintenance provision
that people are helped before, during and and spending £500,000 on environmental
Home improvements after work on their home.” improvements. Lynn sums up: “Over the next
The association is already making an impact five years, we’ll spend around £21 million on
with its external improvement works. Upgrading sheltered housing is another Rutland homes and neighbourhoods. We’ve
Replacing items like fascias and soffits and priority. This includes installing new communal made some big commitments, but we’re 100
painting external elements means Spire heating systems, fitting energy-efficient per cent sure that we’ll deliver everything we
Homes can reduce other costs, as well as boilers and giving communal areas a promised.”
0845 30 90 700 4 www.longhurst-group.org.uk
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A call to Armes
Last issue, we mentioned the appointment of David Armes
as the new Longhurst Group chairman. Now it’s time to
meet him in person, and find out about his ambitions and Surveying
What have you achieved so far?
We’ve already changed the emphasis at Four years and 4,000 homes on, Blue
board meetings, dividing business into Skies Consortium has achieved great
strategic and operational agendas. Initial things in a very short space of time. And a
feedback suggests this is working well, recent survey proves it.
although we’ll formally review progress later.
Last year, Blue Skies commissioned a
I’m also building relationships to understand
stakeholder survey to gauge
where my input can add value and support
to other members, helping to drive change. perceptions of consortium effectiveness,
and explore opportunities for improvement
What’s on the horizon? and growth.
Self-regulation is a key Board priority and The results showed that:
we’re working positively with the Tenant
Services Authority (TSA) to meet what is • Consortium members value the ability
required of us in the new standards to access development funding
framework. We regularly meet with senior
• Both members and stakeholders admire
TSA contacts, and invite them to board
Blue Skies’ strong track record and
meetings. I’ve also attended several Hopefully my professional sales, marketing
range of knowledge and expertise
workshops as part of our ongoing and relationship management experience
• The group culture is welcoming and
commitment to develop Board skills. will support these objectives. These days,
commercial experience is definitely an asset
A key part of my role involves support and • Partners want more information about
at Board level.
leadership, which should prove interesting in consortium priorities and the work of
the weeks ahead. I sincerely hope that I have to relish something to be a part of it development consultancy, POD.
affordable housing continues to play a and my new role is incredibly rewarding; just
prominent part in national policy; obviously seeing the excellence being achieved in Following the survey, a new brochure,
there are political sensitivities and challenges some parts of our group is uplifting. But this website and brand guidelines were
involved and we need to respond quickly is just the start, and I’m raring to meet the developed to further raise the consortium’s
and effectively to change. challenges ahead. profile and complement existing
partnership work. Details are provided at
How about your ambitions?
My long-cherished ambition to grow the
group still stands. We’re already a key player
Up close Consortium lead and Longhurst Group
in the midlands, but there’s scope for further
development if the strategy, relationships
and personal partnerships director Alan Whyte said: “As
well as being a ‘top 10’ developer
and ethos are right. • Chaired Longhurst Homes for 12 nationally, these results show how much
years we’ve grown. The feedback will help us to
We manage around 17,000 homes now and • Former commercial manager for anticipate and tackle future challenges –
I’d like us to grow by at least 25 per cent East Midlands Electricity
such as delivering housing with limited or
over the next five years. I’d also like us to be • Member of the Rotary Club of
Grantham no grant; achieving procurement
generally recognised as a major registered
• Advisory Council member for the efficiencies for framework agreements;
University of Evansville and achieving environmental benefits.”
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On target for
Ian Jackson, group director of development, find land opportunities, and they often bring
explains: “It’s the best we could have hoped schemes to us.
for; everything has completed or started-on-
site and we’ve achieved all the targets we “We work with a range of key trusted
set out to – and more. It’s one of those years partners and put a lot of effort into our
where everything went according to plan.” relationships; long-term partnerships help
the group to achieve great results. So we try
The group has actually benefited from the to be a good partner by being decisive,
difficult market conditions. For example, the doing what we say we’ll do and working
Homes and Communities Agency’s KickStart with developers to make schemes work
programme allowed developers to bid for better for everybody.”
money for private housing sites and weave
affordable housing into them. As a result,
around 130 extra units were achieved for The year in figures
L&H Homes that the group’s developer
partners had bid for. • £25.6 million programme (original
With a building programme that almost target £10 million)
trebled its original financial targets and This reinforces the fact that strong • 494 homes started-on-site in the
delivered 380 homes instead of 92, partnerships are key to the programme’s group (originally 121)
Longhurst Group’s development team success. Ian continues: “Both house-builders • 505 homes completed in the group
achieved incredible results during 2009/10. and general developers have the ability to (was 362)
Longhurst Group’s commitment to working development will achieve 42 new properties, and
in Peterborough is evident, with positive bring seven street properties back into use. Built in
progress being made on two major partnership with Larkfleet Homes, this scheme
housing schemes. required Longhurst Group to assemble some of the
site – buying various packages of land, and even
The Hampton scheme with Persimmon some back gardens to make the development work.
Homes was recently completed, achieving
more than 100 homes in the city. The Longhurst Group is also proud to be part of local
development includes 30 intermediate partnerships that are starting to mature.
homes, a mix of shared ownership and rent Representatives regularly attend the Peterborough
to Homebuy; nearly all of these units were Construction Network, and also sponsored one of
sold ‘off plan’, which is a great achievement the recent events. Later this year, the group is also
given market conditions. set to sponsor the
A new scheme has also recently started at Awards, which promises
Southview Road, in a regeneration area to to be a lively and
the north of the city. Once completed, the interesting occasion.
Worboys wins promotion
Nick Worboys has been promoted to assistant director of development at Longhurst Group. This reflects
her role in helping to grow the development function and instrumental role in developing relationships
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SureStart first for Sparkbrook
By leading a SureStart partnership in involved in the government-led SureStart families needing support. This work is set to
Sparkbrook, Birmingham, Friendship Care initiative, which aims to give young people continue. Whilst SureStart projects are
and Housing is both transforming families’ the best possible start in life. subject to the vagaries of government
lives and pioneering a new approach for the funding, there’s no doubt the Sparkbrook
housing sector. SureStart provides childcare training, trains example has been very successful.
people in parenting and makes sure that
In the 1990s, ‘housing plus’ was high on the families have support structures in place. In As Jonathan Driffill, managing director at
agenda – housing associations were urged Sparkbrook, it was also important to make Friendship Care and Housing points out:
to contribute to wider communities, rather sure that the project reflected the diverse “The Sparkbrook SureStart work has engaged
than just the bricks and mortar they needs of a multi-cultural community. parents and helped them to gain employment
developed and managed. and training. It also provides good-quality
Foundations for future growth childcare in an area where there wasn’t any
At that time, there was much concern in the before. So we’re proud to be doing our bit
Sparkbrook area around the lack of Ten years on, Friendship Care and Housing is to help the project move forward.”
childcare provision. This was a real barrier to believed to be the only housing specialist
women accessing employment and training named as lead organisation for a
opportunities; it often meant they couldn’t SureStart partnership. This role
be economically active after having a baby. involves employing outreach staff,
overseeing pay and benefits and even
Friendship Care and Housing was providing premises on a ‘peppercorn’
determined to change that. So the rent for 25 years.
association applied for European funding,
ran child-minder training and organised 200 Practical assistance available to families
extra childcare places – allowing women to includes a health drop-in centre, baby
get the formal skills to become child- and toddler nurseries, crèche,
minders. In around five years, the playgroup, school support clubs,
association showed it was possible to library group, garden playground and
remove barriers to employment and training. local community facility. All of these
This work was the catalyst to getting services make a big difference to
Longhurst Group’s in-house construction services team has proved its
value over the past year - generating income far exceeding expectations.
Construction services manager Jenny Davies said: “Our job is to provide
services that used to be outsourced – including employer’s agent and
clerk of works and in addition to this providing defects liaison and
ongoing development co-ordination.
“We support all of the Longhurst Group member companies, although a good proportion of
consultancy services work is still outsourced to partners. Different organisations have different
needs, so we keep things flexible.”
The team also has someone who monitors when schemes finish and the end of defects period
comes into play; by keeping track of progress on every scheme, any loose ends get tied up.
The team is relatively new to the group, but expanding steadily. As Jenny explains: “With such a
hectic development programme, our team was kept busy at year end!
“We hope to appoint a couple of new surveyors over the next few months. But most
importantly, we’re enjoying learning and growing alongside our member company clients.”
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Points make prizes with
new Spire scheme
A ground-breaking shape services – after all, they’re giving up remind tenants how many points they’ve
Spire Homes their time. attracted for their contribution.
initiative is set to
reward residents “Residents who join this club will opt-in to Spire Homes also intends to use the system
for providing feedback about housing plans a contact database and agree to take part to target customers who traditionally are
and services. in surveys, focus groups and text under-represented in consultation (such as
consultations. We’ve asked customers young people, working
The MyViewpoint club, which launches in what topics interest them, so we’ll only tenants and
June 2010, echoes many successful contact them on items that we know they’ll residents
supermarket loyalty schemes. It’s an find genuinely interesting.” with specific
extension of Spire’s ongoing resident needs).
involvement strategy - combining customer Each time someone contributes views and
insight, marketing and financial incentives to ideas, Spire Homes will add points to
boost engagement. their MyViewpoint card. The idea is
to build up points that can
Samantha Horne, head of customer services, then be swapped for a range of
explains. “We conducted a resident prizes - such as cinema tickets,
involvement survey last year and shopping vouchers and
MyViewpoint is a logical follow-up. We music downloads.
believe that people should be rewarded for Six-monthly
their contribution when they help us to statements will
development In tune or
“It’s a dream come true”. That’s how
resident Laurie Blockley describes her new
shared ownership home in North
meant she could apply for the new Spire
Homes scheme being built nearby. off-beat?
Luffenham, Rutland. The scheme’s shared ownership units work
on a ‘staircasing’ arrangement – where We hope you have enjoyed this edition
Laurie’s home is just one of the eight purchasers can buy a share of up to 80 per of the Longhurst Group business
properties provided as part of a new cent of their home. Applicants have also briefing, InTune. We aim to highlight
exceptions site development in the parish. been assisted with numerous incentives to some of our achievements and show
The scheme – built just outside the village help them settle in quickly, including free how the teams make a real difference
boundary – is close to local facilities, but also carpeting, cooker and cooker hood. to the quality of people’s lives.
enjoys breathtaking views of the
countryside. Katy Sagoe, director of housing services at We’d welcome your feedback on any of
Spire Homes, said: “Shared ownership is a the articles featured, and would also
Originally from North Luffenham, Laurie had really important way to make homes love to hear from you about
lived away from the area for some years, but affordable for people in places like Rutland, opportunities we could explore
needed to move back to be closer to her where house prices far outstrip average together. Please email our marketing
family. Unfortunately the price of housing in salaries. We’re really proud of these new director, Janet Matthews at
Oakham meant that buying her own home properties, and plan to build more new janet.matthews@longhurst-
was out of reach, so she and her daughter homes locally to help people stay in this group.org.uk with your views.
had to stay with relatives. But then she beautiful area.”
found out that having a local connection
0845 30 90 700 8 www.longhurst-group.org.uk