Honours for housing association stars

Outstanding contributions to the work of charitable housing association BCHA have been recognised at a major conference held in Bournemouth.

The day-long Building the Future Together event included the presentation of Bchangemakers Awards to deserving staff members and service users who had been nominated by their peers. 

Colleagues from across the organisation’s many services, customers, clients and guests gathered at Bournemouth’s Citygate Church for the day, which also marked the conclusion of BCHA’s 50th anniversary commemorations.

Bournemouth-based BCHA also celebrated a successful year in the life of the association, which is dedicated to helping homeless and vulnerable people, as well as hearing from guest speakers from closely connected major organisations.

BCHA’s Chairman Mike Wood welcomed attendees by thanking everyone for their commitment, saying: “This celebration today is all about people and the hard work you and all the other people who are, or have been, involved in this organisation make.

“I wish we could end homelessness and we would like to believe our work is done after 50 years, but it is not and we all must continue to strive to give help where it is most needed.”

Guests watched a video highlighting the many successes of the organisation in the past 12 months. 

Chief Executive Officer Martin Hancock told the audience: “We need to bring the hope so vital to our society. We need to balance kindness and support against challenge and truth so the service we offer can be transformational.“ 

In a call to arms he told colleagues: “We need to be outstanding in the services we offer – good is not good enough. 

“A priority for the coming year will be to review and shape our culture to make sure it is relevant going forward.  We have been asking for our customers’ feedback and we will also be doing the same with staff to ensure we keep the customer at the heart of what we do.

“Bchangemakers is not just recognition of the last 50 years, we will be continuing this campaign for the next 50 years to ensure we work together to build better homes, stronger families and better communities.”

Martin Lucas, Director of Finance & Corporate Services, added: “We work in a challenging environment and we are not alone in feeling that. Successful organisations need to adapt. At the heart of what we do is focusing on the customer – the most vulnerable – to help them find a way forward in their lives.” 

“While it is good to look back it is important to plan for the future. We know we face uncertainty through political change but we want to continue to grow to meet the needs of the homeless and vulnerable. We also want to improve and foster relationships with other organisations and share skills.” 

Guest speakers at the event included John Little, who leads on housing and facilities management for Vanguard Consulting, Chris Hancock, who is responsible for direct housing services for Crisis, and Rachael Orr, the Director of PlaceShapers, a network of more than 100 community-based housing associations.

Attendees also heard about BCHA’s role in the pioneering Plymouth Alliance Contract in Devon, a strategic multi-service agency partnership with many organisations working together for the common good under the auspices of the city authority. 

Nicola Greenfield, BCHA’s Head of Health, Wellbeing and Tenancy Sustainment, said the new system – which was introduced on April 1 for five years and replaced 25 individual contracts with service providers – would hopefully end duplication, inefficient use of resources and disjointed working through a ‘whole system’ approach. 

Awards were presented to the following: Lisa Hudson (Employee of the Year); Daryl Gibbins (Special Recognition); Liz Ropschitz (Special Recognition); Bev Munden (Motivational Leader); Assertive Outreach B&B Project (Innovative Project).

Anna Garrett (Champion Educator); Joanne Baker (Housing Halo); Jon Gulliver (Bold Bricks); Mark Rowlands (New Leaf Service Award); Derek Clarke (Backroom Wonder); Stuart Milburn (Valiant Volunteer); Melissa (Inspiring Customer); Darren Johns (Nobel Newcomer); Lloyd Coates (Inspiring Change) and Dorset Young People (Tremendous Team).

BCHA, based in St Swithuns Road, was founded in 1968 as Bournemouth Churches Housing Association by a number of local churches, to try to make a practical contribution to local housing problems.

It is now a major provider of a diverse range of housing, support and learning services for socially excluded people and currently delivers services across the south. 

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