A team of Tenancy Gurus at Housing 21 have helped residents save a combined total of over £700k during 2021 as part of the organisation’s Helping Hands initiative.
The savings have been made through giving advice across a range of services, including how to access the correct pension and housing benefit, to savings in broadband and helping with warm home discount claims.
The ‘Helping Hands’ initiative involves colleagues working across the organisation to have open conversations with residents about money and how to help prevent arrears.
As part of this, Housing 21 has recruited network of 45 ‘Tenancy Gurus’ and embedded them across the organisation in Retirement Living and Extra Care. The gurus all have a passion for tenancy sustainment and financial wellbeing, support colleagues, and can run sustainment-based activities for residents.
Spearheaded by the Tenancy Gurus, a series of Make a Difference Days, or ‘MAD Days’ held throughout the year have proven successful in saving residents a combined total of over £700k and supported residents in having frank and honest conversations about financial wellbeing.
Activities on ‘MAD Days’ include running a benefits awareness session, partnership working to resolve issues or helping residents with a benefits application.
Nikki Dipper, Business Improvement Officer at Housing 21, said: “The gurus have received additional training and coaching around how to talk about money in a positive way and have those difficult conversations, as well as on benefits and budgeting specifically for older people.
“Some amazing amounts of money in backdated claims have been passed on to residents. One colleague helped a resident apply for a private pension which will provide them with a total of £36,000 but it’s also the seemingly small things too, like supporting with setting up internet for a resident, which meant that £80 for a call out charge from their provider has been saved.”
In 2021 colleagues have secured benefits residents were missing out on, applied to the National Lottery for funding for garden furniture, as well as making numerous agreements to help get people out of arrears and reduce anxiety around money.
Simon, a resident at Denis Wilson Court in Cambridge said: “The services provided to me by the Tenancy Gurus here have been exemplary and courteous at all times.
“They are on hand to answer and help with queries from any residents and the responses are always positive and swift. I often think they have large spoonfuls of patience stirred into their cups of tea. Truly a five star team and they add something special to the experience of living here.”
Samantha Oliver is a Scheme Manager at Denis Wilson Court and a Tenancy Guru.
Samantha commented: “Since starting the Tenancy Guru project I have helped many residents at my own scheme and neighbouring schemes, to ensure they are all getting what they are entitled to.
“The role involves everything from arranging volunteers, to helping people access grants to improve their financial situation and benefits they didn’t believe they were entitled to – and helping my colleagues do the same at their schemes.
“At a time when so many are struggling, being a Tenancy Guru means I really make a difference to people’s lives and give me job satisfaction.”
For more information about Housing 21, visit www.housing21.org.uk.