Wider Community Benefits
When Westdale Midlands Ltd (WML) is awarded a new contract, we are always committed to delivering a regeneration programme that will have both short and long term benefits to the community involved.
Prior to starting work in the community, an invitation will be given to all residents to come along to one of our open evenings. At this event our programme of delivery will be explained and products used will be on display. Our team is always on hand to answer any questions anyone may have including the system supplier. Following this meeting appointments will then be made to carry out individual surveys of all properties. Again, this gives us the chance to speak directly with the tenant and accommodate any specific needs that they may have concerning the delivery of the works.
Through delivering a regeneration programme there are numerous benefits to the local community that we look to provide, working with the Housing Association or Council to understand what they feel will benefit their area the most, and help them achieve their own community target agenda. Examples of benefits we have offered and provided in the past include:
- Using local labour wherever possible
- Appointing local services and businesses wherever possible, i.e. provision of skips
- Using local hotels and eateries where visitors to site need to be accommodated
- Involving schools and residents in localised organised events that encourage them to take pride in their community and a vested interest in the environment.
- Encouraging prominent visitors to see the works, for instance MP’s or celebrities (see photo’s below)
- Sponsoring local football teams (see photograph below)
- Project street party with local residents to thank them for their forbearance.
- Job experience schemes, allowing long term unemployed people on-site and job experience (see composite photograph below)
- Help in applying for jobs- giving advice on what employers are looking for and how to apply for jobs (college talk photo’ below)
- Apprenticeship schemes- often leading to full time positions and working towards NVQ’s
- Supplying free skips to allow tenants to clear waste from their gardens and improve the look of the area, removing potential health hazards
- Providing funding to re-generate local facilities- like the renovated tennis courts and the new school path we funded in the below photographs
Short Term Aspirations
The instant visual impact that the work has on each individual property is evident as soon as scaffolding is removed. As the programme moves on, tenants are excited about the prospect of having their home transformed and eagerly await the completion of the work. We have had extensive positive feedback in this respect on schemes we have completed.
To further involve all of the community a visit to each local school in the regeneration area is undertaken. Our Customer Care Manager will carry out an engaging presentation which will promote our message on the importance of site safety. This will also include an explanation of the environmental impact of the scheme in terms of energy efficiency.
Our site based Resident Liaison Officer, located in the heart of the regeneration area, is always on hand to help and advise the tenants and residents. The RLO is visible in the community on a daily basis. This person has previously become the focal point for the community understanding their needs and concerns. On previous schemes they have been very successful when liaising with the more vulnerable members of the community. Tenants have found our open site office policy re-assuring as it is an additional opportunity for face to face contact with a member of the Westdale team.
Once the property has been insulated, the impact that the insulation has made becomes apparent. We hear it so many times with tenants often commenting “I can’t believe how much warmer it is.”
The landscaping works we are also often asked to do in the area of the works has a vast visual effect on the improvement of the area, again gaining much positive feedback, as could be seen on the New Inns project for instance we previously undertook for Bron Afon, and the Isle of Anglesey projects undertaken (see case studies section please)
Long Term Aspirations
Community involvement in a project is always a priority. Past projects have involved local school children building a bug hotel. This was created totally from recycled/upcycled materials, many of which were obtained from the regeneration programme. The hotel was ‘populated’ with bugs by the pupils, and offered an opportunity to learn about ecology and nature addressing areas of the school curriculum. A photograph of the Bug Hotel is shown below.
Westdale also engaged with members of the community including the Parish Council to organise and deliver a series of bulb planting days on parcels of disused public open space which contributed to the regeneration of the local area. To complement the bulb planting we invested in additional street furniture in the local playground, leaving a legacy of environmental improvement in the community for all to enjoy.
The impact that our work has on the local neighbourhood transforms the area into a more desirable location. This is often reflected in the re sale value of properties where we have done privately owned residences. It has also been evident on previous projects that tenants take more pride in the appearance of their home following the makeover. This has been shown many times when front gardens have been improved by the tenants following the works.
Cost savings become apparent straight away to the tenant living in the property. The long term benefits of the work have a lasting impact not only in terms of the immediate financial savings to the bill payer but also environmentally impacting on both climate change and carbon reduction. Significant amounts of CO2, measured in Tonnes, are saved each year there by helping achieve the governments energy efficiency scheme target (ECO).
The positive health benefits associated with improving the insulation of the properties are potentially a reduction in conditions such as high blood pressure, heart attacks and pneumonia; all often associated with living in a cold home. People with existing health conditions such as circulatory or respiratory problems (e.g. asthma), diabetes, arthritis, depression and anxiety are especially vulnerable to the cold as are children and the elderly. For some groups such as those with specific disabilities the risks are even higher. Cold homes can also increase the likelihood of damp and mould occurring which can further exacerbate health related problems.
The presentations to the schools can serve to introduce to children the measures we can all take in our homes to reduce carbon emissions, recycling and not wasting energy. To introduce these ideas to young people can have a lasting effect, with the growing up looking for ways to improve the way in which we interact with the world’s natural resources and protecting them for future generations. Westdale are proud to play a part in this.