Workington housing association has the caring touch, say tenants
Last updated at 20:42, Thursday, 19 July 2012
A West Cumbrian social landlord is a company that cares, according to three of its tenants.
Joan Johnstone, Janet Smith and Sue Riach all live in houses owned by Westfield Housing Association, which has been crowned the best small housing association and best landlord of the year in the UK Housing Awards.
The association owns homes in 14 towns and villages across West Cumbria, including Workington’s Westfield area, Cockermouth, Aspatria, Dearham, and Allonby.
The women said their lives had been made better by being with the association and highlighted its caring and personal approach as key to its success.
The association, based at the Minto Centre, Westfield, is essentially a tenant-controlled organisation, with tenants making up 62 per cent of the shareholders and a third of the board.
Graham Howarth, director, said his five full-time and six part-time staff adopted a common sense approach when dealing with tenants and allowed them to show flexibility with each request.
The association moved Joan Johnstone, 79, of Casson Road, Workington, from her first floor home to a ground floor flat because she struggled to get up the stairs due to arthritis in both of her knees.
The association made sure she could stay in the same area so she wouldn’t lose her link to the community. It also meant she could carry on maintaining communal gardens that the association helps fund by providing flowers and tools.
She said: “Westfield is special. There are other housing associations that don’t take any notice. I had a problem with my council tax when I moved in and the staff told me to bring my documents in and they sorted it out for me. They’re absolutely brilliant.”
Janet Smith, 48, of Crosby, had always dreamed of her ideal home in the countryside and signed up to the association, having heard good things about it.
Three weeks later she was handed the keys to her own cottage.
She said: “Living in a Westfield property has had such a positive effect on my life. There are no call centres and no telephone systems to deal with.
“You speak directly to a real person who deals with your call right there and then.”
The social landlord has also given her daughter a new home and her grandson attended Footsteps Nursery, also run by the association at the Minto Centre.
The association gave Sue Riach, 47, Goodman Road, Workington, and her husband their first flat when they were married.
Then when she was expecting her first child, the family were moved into a three-bedroom house.
The social landlord is also her employer as they gave her a job at Footsteps Nursery.
She said: “It’s quite like a family. They couldn’t be happier for us when we were expecting a child. It’s the personal touch. I feel like it’s people who genuinely care.”
Lynda Coid, operations manager, said: “We treat people how we would want to be treated ourselves. We do get amazed by some of the things people ask us about. People trust us and they feel they can tell us the most personal things.”
First published at 19:25, Thursday, 12 July 2012
Published by http://www.timesandstar.co.uk
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