12 Nov 2021

Looking back at the CIH Housing Management Summit – Mears Group

Mears is one of the UK’s leading housing solutions providers to both the public and private sector, with over 5,500 employees, working with clients and communities to help develop, fund, and implement innovative solutions for the affordable housing market. It was a pleasure for Mears to sponsor the CIH Housing Management Summit, with the programme covering some very pertinent topics in the sector.

The effects of the Covid pandemic loomed large over the agenda in terms of the impact on front line housing staff, who have been magnificent in ensuring that essential services continued during the pandemic. The event also emphasised how we, as employers, ensured that staff teams were and continue to be, supported under a series of challenges that the pandemic has brought.

There are ever present issues in housing management that have been further exacerbated by the pandemic such as anti-social behaviour (ASB). As the nation spends more of our time at home, this topic was discussed,  and we heard about how this has impacted tenant cohesion and the range of tools at our disposal to deal with disputes.     

There was rightly a focus in the agenda on homelessness and how we can ensure that people are supported in a holistic, person-centred way to access support and accommodation when they need it most. Sian Davenport, our business development lead, was personally very keen to hear about the Housing First model at the session on Wednesday morning. Homelessness had been increasing prior to the pandemic and now with the end of the eviction ban and the return to shorter notice periods across the UK over the next six months, indications are that this demand will not decrease anytime soon.

The two days of the conference were a real opportunity for housing management professionals to come together, to share experiences and best practice, to learn and to support each other. Mears was also pleased to see the emphasis throughout the conference on the positive impact and genuine life changing outcomes that good housing management practices provided by our dedicated workforce can have on individuals lives.

Who is Mears Housing Management?

Finding new ways to meet local housing need, Mears Housing Management works in partnership with central and local Government, registered providers, tenants, landlords and investors to find solutions to homelessness, provide more social and affordable housing and create specialist housing for people with care needs. We are trusted to provide properties and public housing management for some of the most vulnerable people in the UK on behalf of our partners and through our own landlord business.

Sponsoring the Housing Management Summit meant we could join the conversation with other organisations, to discuss and listen to the topics that affects our industry. It meant we were able to share best practice, learn from the success others were having and develop and consider new ways of working within our industry. We are striving to make a difference for our service users and tenants and being part of these conversations is only one way of us doing this.

We also endeavour to be at the fore front of social value, through partnering with other charities and organisations to help bring added value to everything we offer. For example, our projects in partnership with London Borough of Waltham Forest shows the value of working closely with partners to develop a scheme that can benefit our tenants. We have worked with charity groups to develop summer projects, activities, and community engagement across the whole of the UK. The value this brings is so important to Mears and we will continue to do so as much as we can.

The key messages that we took from the sessions that were held across the two-day event were:
  • The pandemic has led to the necessity of innovation in the way providers work in housing
  • This has included a range of creative and innovative ways in which providers have continued with tenant engagement, social events, communication, managed the impact of ASB as well as innovation around the day to day management of services
  • Many of these innovations will remain as we emerge out of the pandemic
  • We have seen great ideas implemented especially around social engagement that recognised and addressed the impact of social isolation on tenants
  • There has been resilience and adaptability of staff over the last 18 months
  • Partnership working across the sector and with other stakeholders has been key to keeping this working
  • The session that focused a lot on ASB and looked at the increased prevalence of this as more people were stuck at home and working from home. It also focused on the use and benefits of the “noise app” in identifying and recording noise ASB and its use as evidence in ABS cases  
  • Other sessions looked at tenant engagement and how working together and listening to tenants means that relationship can grow and develop and as a sector we can develop a better understanding and model.

As a sector we need to continue the conversation, and Mears very much enjoyed being part of this forum to be enable us all to do this.

Written by Sian Davenport and Amanda Morby

Sian Davenport is the business development lead (care and support) and Amanda Morby is the marketing manager for Mears Group.