Broadland held its first ‘virtual AGM’ in September. Board members and association members came together in a socially-distanced meeting, with an exclusive video link as an additional option for participants.
Michael Newey, our Chief Executive, described how the previous 6 months had been Broadland’s ‘finest hour’. He outlined how we have supported vulnerable tenants during the Coronavirus pandemic, implemented a huge sanitisation programme, and worked closely with local partners to provide safe places for homelessness people during the lockdown.
Building more affordable homes
Despite the pandemic, Broadland also delivered 288 new homes during 2019-20 including 171 for rental and a further 38 for shared ownership. We allocated 527 new homes during the year, of which 82 were let to homeless people, and a further 122 to older people.
Michael praised Broadland employees for their team spirit:
Our staff had to adapt quickly to a new way of working, and responded magnificently. Because of this, we were able to put in place support for our tenants really quickly.
As lockdown started, we phone more than 1,000 of our most vulnerable tenants, to make sure they were alright, and to offer any assistance they might need. As a result, 450 of those received ongoing help, from deliveries of food and prescriptions, to regular telephone calls to provide a friendly voice to those facing lockdown on their own.
The way we responded to lockdown and Covid has been our finest hour as an organisation. But we are still working through how we deal with the new normal.
Michael Newey, Chief Executive, Broadland Housing Association
Addressing homelessness in the region
Broadland also played a key part in the ‘Everybody In’ campaign to ensure all homeless people had a safe place to stay during lockdown. We are working in partnership to provide permanent accommodation for homeless people. The scheme has already secured permission for 23 new homes in King’s Lynn and West Norfolk and 13 in Norwich, and is well on the way to securing 36 more in Great Yarmouth.
‘A strong year’
Reflecting on the year, Michael was upbeat about Broadland’s performance:
On pretty much every metric, we have had a strong year. We have accelerated our development programme; we carried out over 20,000 repairs including new bathrooms, kitchens, windows and heating systems; We installed solar PV panels on 55 of our homes; and we carried out adaptations in 38 properties to enable residents to stay living in their own homes.
In addition, our Tenancy Support team worked with nearly 350 tenants, underlining our commitment not just to provide quality affordable homes, but to help people access the support they may need to maintain their tenancy.
Michael said that it was difficult to predict what the immediate future would bring – but that Broadland Housing would remain committed to its core aims:
For the last 25 years, everybody has been talking about having a ‘2020 Vision’ – and yet none of us could have foreseen what this year would bring.
We have proven that we are equal to the challenges which have been thrown at us, and we will stay focussed on our core aims of providing quality affordable homes, supporting our tenants to live in those homes, tackling homelessness, and building as many new homes as possible.