Tackling Poverty Fortnight 2016 – Newydd Housing
During the first two weeks of February, the Wales Co-operative Centre is running its third Tackling Poverty Fortnight campaign.
With the next Welsh Assembly elections looming and the Welsh Government’s current Tackling Poverty Action plan due to end this year, the Centre hopes the campaign will help to support and inform future efforts around these issues.
The campaign will promote successful co-operative projects that are currently being delivered by the third sector and social businesses in Wales to help tackle poverty, in the hope the incoming Welsh Government builds on current good practice, and explores new, innovative ideas.
Today, we hear from Kevin Howell, Community Regeneration Manager at Newydd Housing Association.
A number of the communities that we work within are in areas of multiple deprivation and many of our 100 plus staff are remote workers, based in the communities in which we operate.
Like many, we firmly believe that our role as a housing association is greater than merely bricks and mortar and take our role in tackling poverty in communities seriously, contributing to the regeneration of these areas. With limited resources we look to target our interventions and focus on people in need. Working with local people to make sure investment makes a long lasting difference, we are developing initiatives which matter most to the people living in that area.
Poverty can often be discussed as a lack of money, but the implications on those identified as living in disadvantaged communities are far greater. Often with poverty we find poorer quality housing, low educational attainment, poorer health and economic inactivity.
During my time at Newydd I have become increasingly involved with the health sector. I remain shocked by the widening healthy life expectancy gap between the richest and poorest parts of Wales. Newydd owns and manages housing stock in Rhondda Cynon Taff where people in the more deprived areas expect limiting ill-health and disability at the end of their lives for a greater length of time than the average person. There is also a widening gap of over 15 years in healthy life expectancy between the least and most deprived areas which is horrifying reading in 2016.
By working with local people and stakeholders Newydd developed the ‘Healthy, Aspiring, Prosperous and Inclusive’ (known as hapi) project in RCT. This two year project has been funded by Big Lottery People and Places Fund and has engaged with a huge range of stakeholders, including Public Health Cwm Taf. Whilst the project is in its infancy, it has already worked with over 360 people, to support them towards living a healthier life, physically and emotionally. Whilst we realise that this project alone will not solve entrenched health inequalities, it can make a difference to the people who access it.
I could think of numerous other examples of the work we’ve done over the past number of years within communities to make some inroads to tackle the complex issue of poverty. We have worked with over 1000 individuals in a range of areas since April 2015, from the 150 people that have moved nearer employment, the 200 people that are now digitally included, numerous work placements, the 50 opportunities to people from the Welsh Government LIFT programme to name just a few. That is not to mention the development of more homes to meet housing need, and improving and maintaining our existing stock.
However, despite our efforts, and the efforts of many in Wales we are still in a situation where an unacceptable number of the the Welsh population live in poverty. Tackling inequality and poverty in our society must continue to be at the very core of the next Welsh Government. We know there are some great pockets of work, but often it does not tackle the issue that some people simply do not have enough money to live. Planned anti-poverty interventions need to focus on the outcomes, and this is sometimes missing with the focus on the activity. How is the investment measured? How are local people, and independent organisations influencing the future priorities and plans of the Welsh Government?
Newydd plan to continue working in partnership with people that have experienced poverty, with partners, and also funders to do whatever we can to make communities a better place for our tenants. We want to ensure that we are listening to community priorities, working with people and not fall into the trap of imposing plans and activities on communities. The individuals that live in our communities are the experts in their own lives and will help all of us ensure the next generation do not experience the same disadvantages that many people living in poverty experience today.
Newydd is a charitable housing association that offers nearly 3,000 affordable homes for rent and sale to people where need is at its greatest in Mid and South Wales. The Newydd vision is simply to provide affordable homes and sustainable communities with excellent services to tenants and customers.
The Tackling Poverty Fortnight campaign is also using Thunderclap to generate public support, and the Twitter hashtag #PovertyInWales. You can also access the Wales Co-operative Centre’s manifesto which sets out actions that are needed to support and strengthen the development of co-operative approaches across Wales.
Wales Co-operative Centre delivers Tackling Poverty Fortnight as part of a programme of work funded by Welsh Government.