Category Archives: News

Drop-in service for people in crisis gets a helping hand in Aylesbury

A drop-in service for Aylesbury people in crisis has been given a helping hand from a local housing association.
Thrive Homes, which owns and manages a number of affordable homes in Aylesbury Vale, has donated £600 from its small grants fund to Aylesbury-based organisation Space.

Space provides support and care to people struggling during difficult times in their lives, such as relationship break-downs, depression, bereavement, unemployment, mental health problems or loneliness.

The Thrive grant will help fund the group’s drop-in sessions, which are run five times a week at various community locations in the area.

For people in need of more intensive support, Space can signpost them to other organisations for help and also offers an affordable one-to-one counselling service.

Project Coordinator Kate Lawton said: “At the drop-in sessions, people can just pop by, have a cup of tea and talk if they want to – there’s no pressure but sometimes people just need someone to listen and be supportive.

“We are very grateful for this grant because, like many other small community organisations, we struggle to find funding for what we do – but it really is a lifeline for so many people who don’t know where to turn in times of crisis.”

Space supported 171 people through 3,251 interactions – drop-in visits, counselling sessions and general support – between April 2017 and February 2018 alone.

Daryl Pereira, Engagement Business Partner at Thrive Homes, said: “Everyone goes through difficult times once in a while and it can make you feel very alone and isolated. But Space offers support and a listening ear in a caring, non-judgemental environment to help people through tough times.”

Thrive’s small grants fund awards sums of around £500 each to good causes in need of support, including charities, organisations and projects within the communities where Thrive operates.

The fund is part of the housing provider’s ‘Thrive GIVE’ initiative which aims to benefit communities and worthy schemes, bringing social value in a variety of ways.

Thrive GIVE (Generating Income for Voluntary Enterprises) includes the ‘Give Grants’ community fund, ‘Give your Time’ staff volunteering programme, ‘Give Support’ scheme which links charities with private sector support and ‘Give a Voice’ campaign to ensure customers have their say.

Furniture recycling charity gets cash boost from Hertfordshire housing association

A furniture recycling charity has been given a cash boost by a Hertfordshire-based housing association.

Thrive Homes has donated £500 from its small grants fund to Fresch (Furniture Recycling Scheme for Hertfordshire), which is based in Welwyn Garden City.

Fresch collects donated furniture and electrical goods to reduce the amount going to landfill, then sells it at an affordable price to people in need such as those on low incomes or women fleeing domestic abuse.

The Thrive grant will help the not-for-profit social enterprise continue running its services across Hertfordshire.

Manager Michael Gadeke said: “All the money we make on selling the furniture enables us to operate, and we try as much as possible to be self-sustaining. But a grant like this is a welcome boost and very much appreciated.”

In 2016/17, Fresch saved 40 tonnes of furniture from going to landfill, received 1,100 donated items which helped 900 customers, and clocked up 8,500 hours of volunteering to provide the service.

Daryl Pereira, Engagement Business Partner at Thrive Homes, said: “We are always keen to build strong links with the communities in which we operate and support local organisations doing great work to improve people’s lives.”

Thrive’s small grants fund awards sums of around £500 each to good causes in need of support, including charities, organisations and projects within the communities where Thrive operates.

The fund is part of the housing provider’s ‘Thrive GIVE’ initiative which aims to benefit communities and worthy schemes, bringing social value in a variety of ways.

Thrive GIVE (Generating Income for Voluntary Enterprises) includes the ‘Give Grants’ community fund, ‘Give your Time’ staff volunteering programme, ‘Give Support’ scheme which links charities with private sector support and ‘Give a Voice’ campaign to ensure customers have their say.

Community charity spreads the word to improve quality of life for Dacorum residents

A community support charity is being helped to spread the word about its work to improve Dacorum residents’ quality of life.

Hertfordshire housing association Thrive Homes has awarded £500 from its small grants fund to Community Action Dacorum, based in Hemel Hempstead.

Community Action Dacorum provides a range of support to the local community, bringing people together to achieve through voluntary service, strengthening communities and enhancing people’s lives.

The charity – which celebrated its 70th anniversary last year – supports voluntary organisations and community groups at the early stages of their development, provides services to help them grow and flourish, and runs various projects that support local individuals, businesses and community groups.

Thrive’s grant will be used to promote the charity’s Support4Dacorum project, which helps community organisations in the borough with matters such as funding advice, governance support, volunteer recruitment and networking.

Community Development Officer Loretta Anderson said: “We are very thankful to Thrive for this contribution to our work, as we are always keen to get the word out to promote what we can do for groups in the voluntary sector.”

Daryl Pereira, Engagement Business Partner at Thrive Homes, said: “Community Action Dacorum runs a multitude of projects and services, aimed at improving communities and making a real difference to people’s lives, so we are pleased to support their latest venture.”

Thrive’s small grants fund awards sums of around £500 each to good causes in need of support, including charities, organisations and projects within the communities where Thrive operates.

The fund is part of the housing provider’s ‘Thrive GIVE’ initiative which aims to benefit communities and worthy schemes, bringing social value in a variety of ways.

Thrive GIVE (Generating Income for Voluntary Enterprises) includes the ‘Give Grants’ community fund, ‘Give your Time’ staff volunteering programme, ‘Give Support’ scheme which links charities with private sector support and ‘Give a Voice’ campaign to ensure customers have their say.

Thrive cash boost launches flagship homeless project appeal in Aylesbury

Young homeless people in Aylesbury will be offered a lifeline thanks to the launch of a new flagship project which has been kick-started by housing association Thrive Homes.

Thrive, a housing provider which manages a number of affordable homes in Aylesbury Vale, has awarded £750 from its small grants fund to Youth Concern in Aylesbury.

On the back of the cash injection, the local charity is launching a fundraising drive to bring in a total of £250,000 which will fund a new service they say is desperately needed to support the area’s growing number of young homeless people.

‘The Next Step’ project will provide accommodation for up to a year for 10 young people at a time, along with intensive, tailored support around health, skills and employment.

The idea behind the scheme is to give individuals longer term support to help them get back on their feet, build their confidence, develop their practical skills and boost their job prospects so they can eventually gain employment and live independently in their own home.

Fran Borg-Wheeler, Chief Executive Officer of Youth Concern, said: “We are thrilled to receive this grant from Thrive Homes as it will kick-start our campaign to raise funds for our exciting new youth homeless accommodation project, The Next Step.
“The number of young homeless people is growing but there is not enough sustained support for them in this area, so such a project is desperately needed to empower and enable our young people to rebuild their lives after homelessness.

“As a community, we need to pull together to respond to the issue of homelessness and help young people cope with the increasingly complex challenges they face.”

Youth Concern currently runs the Aylesbury Nightstop project, which provides emergency short-term accommodation for 17-25-year-olds facing homelessness, as well as a drop-in centre and counselling services for young people aged 13-25.

The small independent charity, which is based in Whitehill Lane and celebrates its 40th anniversary next year, supported 565 young people in the last financial year alone, between April 2017 and March 2018.

Daryl Pereira, Engagement Business Partner at Thrive Homes, said: “We manage a number of affordable homes – for rent and for shared ownership – in Aylesbury, including a number that we have built as part of wider developments in recent years.

“As a social landlord, we are always keen to play our part and contribute to the local community, so we are pleased to be able to support Youth Concern and help them launch this exciting new project which looks set to transform many young people’s lives in the years to come.”

Thrive’s small grants fund awards sums of around £500 each to good causes in need of support, including charities, organisations and projects within the communities where Thrive operates.

The fund is part of the housing provider’s ‘Thrive GIVE’ initiative which aims to benefit communities and worthy schemes, bringing social value in a variety of ways.

Thrive GIVE (Generating Income for Voluntary Enterprises) includes the ‘Give Grants’ community fund, ‘Give your Time’ staff volunteering programme, ‘Give Support’ scheme which links charities with private sector support and ‘Give a Voice’ campaign to ensure customers have their say.

  • To find out more about the Next Step project or contribute to the appeal, please contact Fran on fran@youthconcern.org.uk
  • Volunteers ‘speed matching’ event to help charities in Welwyn Hatfield

    Aspiring charity volunteers will be matched to their ideal job at a ‘speed matching’ event in Hatfield, with the help of a local housing association’s support.

    Welwyn Hatfield Community & Voluntary Service (WHCVS) has received a £500 grant from social landlord Thrive Homes to run the event and other activities at its base, The Volunteer Centre, on Thursday 7th June.

    Representatves of up to 20 local charities or voluntary organisations will have three minutes to ‘sell’ themselves to each individual interested in volunteering.

    Carmen Dillon, Chief Officer at WHCVS, said: “It’s a fun and effective way of recruiting volunteers to local groups, which rely on people giving up time for free in order to carry out their work.

    “People interested in doing some voluntary work come along and move from table to table, getting a flavour of each organisation, and the charities get to know a little about that person too. If it’s a match, they can organise having a further chat later on.”

    She added: “We rely on grants like Thrive’s to run our activities, so we are very grateful for their support.”
    The Volunteer Speed Matching event will take place at Hatfield Connect, 1st Floor, The Triangle, Beaconsfield Court, Hatfield, AL10 8YE, from 10am to 1pm. Anyone interested in going along is asked to contact Carmen on 01707 274861 or email her on c.dillon@whcvs.org.uk

    WHCVS works to develop and promote local voluntary and community groups, helping them to set up, fundraise, recruit volunteers and train their teams. It also provides a community car scheme to transport people with mobility or other issues to medical or other appointments.

    In addition, the charity has recently launched a new club which runs social activities for 7-12-year-olds with autism, and the Let’s Chat telephone support service which provides regular calls and a friendly chat to people who are isolated or lonely.

    In 2016/17, WHCVS attracted 213 volunteers who applied for opportunities with local charities and community groups – and its community car scheme made over 2,000 trips, covering more than 75,000 miles.

    Daryl Pereira, Engagement Business Partner at Thrive, said: “WHCVS is dedicated to supporting groups which improve the quality of life of individuals, groups and communities.

    “Here at Thrive we are keen to promote thriving communities where people have life chances and opportunities, so we are delighted to be able to support this charity in its vital work.”

    Thrive’s small grants fund awards sums of around £500 each to good causes in need of support, including charities, organisations and projects within the communities where Thrive operates.

    The fund is part of the housing provider’s ‘Thrive GIVE’ initiative which aims to benefit communities and worthy schemes, bringing social value in a variety of ways.

    Thrive GIVE (Generating Income for Voluntary Enterprises) includes the ‘Give Grants’ community fund, ‘Give your Time’ staff volunteering programme, ‘Give Support’ scheme which links charities with private sector support and ‘Give a Voice’ campaign to ensure customers have their say.

    Closure Order secured on a property in Three Rivers

    Three Rivers District Council has been successful in securing a Closure Order at an address in South Oxhey under the Anti-Social Behaviour Crime and Policing Act 2014.

    Three Rivers worked in partnership with Hertfordshire Police and Thrive Homes to gather evidence in support of the Closure Order. The council, police and Thrive Homes had received numerous calls from members of the public reporting arguments at the address, noisy visitors, domestic abuse, suspected drug use and drug dealing.

    The Closure Order was granted at St Albans Magistrates’ Court on Thursday April 5 2018 on a property in Ballater Close, South Oxhey, Watford, Hertfordshire. No-one is allowed to enter the property for three months and anyone who breaks the terms of the Closure Order will face arrest.

    The court was satisfied that all the necessary criteria for a Closure Order had been met, including:

  • that a person has engaged, or (if the order is not made) is likely to engage, in disorderly, offensive or criminal behaviour on the premises, or
  • that the use of the premises has resulted, or (if the order is not made) is likely to result, in serious nuisance to members of the public, or
  • that there has been, or (if the order is not made) is likely to be, disorder near those premises associated with the use of those premises,
  • Three Rivers urge their residents to help them in the fight against drugs and associated Anti-social Behaviour (ASB). They are working closely with partner agencies to put a permanent stop to these crimes. Securing the Closure Order is a significant part of helping them achieve that.

    Dr Steven Halls, Chief Executive of Three Rivers said: “We very much value our close working relationship with the police and Thrive Homes. By taking this action to close the address, we hope to and improve the quality of life for our local communities and provide some respite from the behaviour that causes such misery for neighbours.

    “Three Rivers want local residents to continue to report anything of concern via the non-emergency number 101 or, if a crime or ASB is in progress, dial 999.”

    Thrive acquires large development site in Watford

    Thrive Homes has today completed the purchase of a large site for residential development at 16-18 St Albans Road in Watford, securing more new-build homes for the organisation’s ever-growing development programme.

    The site is currently occupied by a car dealership. The showroom and car park, on each side of St John’s Road, will be replaced by a total of 90 one and two-bedroom apartments across an eight-story and 10-storey block.

    The current planning permission requires 30 of the proposed homes to be provided as affordable housing but Thrive intends to provide double this number as affordable (subject to funding), with a further 30 homes being provided as shared ownership properties for households who would otherwise be priced out of the local housing market.

    The completed development will include landscaping, gardens, communal outdoor areas, paved courtyards, balconies and secure cycle storage.

    A contractor is likely to be appointed on what will be Thrive’s largest development to date in early 2019, with the first completed units being ready for people to move into in late 2020.

    Jack Burnham, Development Director at Thrive Homes, said: “We are delighted to have been able to acquire this site, which will be our largest development to date.

    “These apartments will be in a prime position, with excellent public transport links and access to Watford town centre. Our intention is to provide double the number of affordable homes that would have been built on the site by increasing the number of shared ownership properties available to people who would otherwise be priced out of the local housing market.

    “We plan to start construction on the site in 2019, with the first homes being ready in 2020”.

    Thrive, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, has an active development programme of over 500 homes across a range of developments in Hertfordshire, Bedfiordshire and Buckinghamshire. The organisation’s forward strategy aims to double its housing stock (currently 4,650 homes) over the next 10 years.

    Creating one team: reviving internal communication in the Workplace

    Thrive Homes is a housing association which owns and manages circa 4,600 properties in the South East of England. Approximately 30% of the workforce is field based which is set to increase as the business begins to digitally evolve to support growth.

    The communications challenge
    The initial challenge was ensuring corporate communications could reach all colleagues. The absence of a centralised communications platform meant field based colleagues couldn’t access the internal e-zine on their mobile devices and inboxes filled up very quickly with often irrelevant emails.

    But the challenge was wider than that. As Leah Thompson, Communications Business Partner and Chair of the Staff Voice consultative group explained: “The absence of an open communication platform meant there was very little exposure to what our colleagues were doing and limited opportunity to feedback.

    This sadly created a big divide between office based teams and field based teams.”

    Finding a solution
    The Staff Voice Group quickly understood the challenge and started to scope what the business needed. In summary, this included:

    • Enabling teams to share knowledge and successes in real time
    • Helping reduce the quantity of internal email
    • A cloud-based, user friendly platform to centralise communication.

    The group shortlisted potential solutions and planned to test each option for three months. Every member recruited three colleagues from their team, forming a testing group of 30.

    Selecting Workplace
    Workplace provides a vast array of features including: instant messaging, video call, live video streaming, organisation chart and an active directory. It easily integrates with Microsoft products and Google Drive and as a final incentive, it is free for not for profit organisations.

    Workplace by Facebook was the first solution Thrive tested. Leah said: “Once we started using Workplace we liked it so much that we didn’t move onto the other options. We quickly realised it was the ideal platform for Thrive.”

    With this confidence, the Staff Voice Group approached their Executive Team to gain their buy-in, Elspeth Mackenzie, CE said, “We were really pleased to support the SVG in introducing Workplace. We recognised the benefits that this would have in connecting people especially as we become more digital and mobile in the way that we work. It was important to us that this would be developed by colleagues for colleagues. It’s so easy to share what’s happening in different areas and to support each other by ‘liking’ what we do.”

    Launch
    The formal launch came on 27th September at Thrive’s staff day, but there was already a buzz about the platform and over 50% of the business had found ‘reasons’ to join Workplace.

    Workplace allows you to personalise your company’s community URL sub-domain. Thrive held a colleague competition to name the domain with an Amazon Echo as the prize. ‘OneThrive’ was the voted favourite and an icon designed in-house by a Staff Voice Group member in line with Thrive’s brand. Today, this icon sits proudly on the front page of the platform.

    At the launch all colleagues received their login and a 15 minute introduction from a Staff Voice Group member. Workplace is based on Facebook’s interface, which meant most people knew how to use it straight away. Those who weren’t familiar with Facebook were provided with a guidance and etiquette document for further support. The overriding message strongly echoed by the Executive Team was “don’t be afraid to try it.”

    Successful implementation was aided by good support from the top team, with senior managers acting as role models in adopting Workplace themselves. Originally, there were concerns in some teams that encouraging social media use in work time would affect productivity. However, this has since been proven wrong as Marie Carpenter, Multi Trade Operative explained: “I’ve been able to video call other operatives for support instead of asking them to attend a job in person, this has saved so much time. The direct instant contact has allowed so many quick positive solutions”.

    Measuring success
    Since the launch in September, Workplace has demonstrated many successes:

    • 91% of users have remained active on a weekly basis
    • 76% of users are using Workplace on their mobile phones of which many are using their personal devices; showing a keenness to engage way beyond the day job
    • The group function has resulted in fewer face to face team meetings
    • Streamlined work processes and real-time news, e.g. customer compliments were tracked on a spreadsheet and periodically artworked for onward email circulation. Now they are posted to Workplace in real time, where the recognised team member can be tagged and colleagues can add comments showing appreciation of their peers.

    Future developments
    The Staff Voice group is keen to explore more functions that the system offers. To date there hasn’t been a great uptake of the instant messaging function with users still wedded to email. However, this behaviour change is on the agenda for 2018 as Thrive introduces remote working.

    Leah sums up the progress made to date: “Implementing Workplace by Facebook means we are getting a real human perspective on our own business: instead of simply looking at statistics, we can see the work that previously went unnoticed – what really goes into giving a family a new home. It’s making us really proud to be in the business and feel more connected as OneThrive – one business, one team, one purpose. This isn’t an IT project, this is about owning our culture and a people led change and we’re very pleased with the results.”

    If you’re interested in finding out more or would like a demonstration of how Workplace performs in the Housing sector, just get in touch with Leah Thompson, Communications Business Partner:

    Email: leah.thompson@thrivehomes.org.uk
    LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/leah-thompson-84869775/
    Telephone: 0800 917 6077