Newport housing co-op member stars in volunteer awards
Many thanks to Jill Stringfellow, Co-operative Housing Development Manager at POBL Group, for sharing this story with us. The story is about Luana Dee, a member of the Loftus Village Housing Co-operative, who has won a Highly Commended Award through the Gwent Association of Voluntary Organisations (GAVO) Volunteer Recognition Scheme.
A housing co-operative is not bricks and mortar, it is a group of people that collectively control and manage their housing. The project was successful and the Loftus Village Association Housing Co-operative was officially registered in May 2016.
Luana was an ideal candidate to become a founding member of the housing co-operative. She worked as a volunteer on the founding member committee. The committee arranged a stall at the Maindee Festival to promote the project and Luana was responsible for making colourful costumes for the parade, for herself and other members.
Luana’s not afraid to challenge “everyone for themselves” behaviour and does this by offering alternative uniting, caring and sharing activities. She has given her time to attend national housing co-operative events to share her experience of the project, has contributed to an evaluation of the project for the Welsh Government and is an ambassador for Charter Housing’s work in developing affordable housing for sale or rent.
Luana is making sure that the housing co-operative forms bonds with the existing community. She has organised several events involving the wider community; a Christmas carol concert and this year organised an Easter themed afternoon tea with egg painting and egg hunt. Luana is a former after school club care worker and has used these skills on a voluntary basis at Loftus Village Association to tremendous effect.
This has proven most evident in the establishment of a shared garden. With the support of other co-op members Luana has this year built a beautiful community garden. Planters have been made using recycled material and children from the co-operative and surrounding streets filled the planters with herbs, fruits and summer flowers.
It’s been great attending these community events and watching the co-operative grow into a new valuable social enterprise in Newport. The co-operative would not have achieved so much without Luana’s efforts.