East Ayrshire Council’s Housing Asset Services (HAS) has recently won two major awards – the APSE award for Most Improved Performer: Building Maintenance in the UK and the APSE Margo Blair Award for innovation and excellence within service delivery and performance.
The APSE award for Most Improved Building Maintenance is one of the most prestigious awards of the year in this field. HAS achieved this accolade by demonstrating the greatest improvement in the service delivered to tenants and communities. The team have transformed the way they work ensuring that communities are at the heart of everything they do.
The HAS team were also recognised with the Margo Blair Award for their ‘people first, not fabric first’ approach that was initially developed in Bellsbank, and has since been rolled out to Shortlees, Northwest Kilmarnock and Muirkirk.
This unique and collaborative approach helps to tackle a range of issues that teams have identified when working on large housing improvement programmes – social isolation, loneliness, fuel poverty, food insecurity and wellbeing.
Working with the community, through local steering groups and community champions, ensured that the team had clear aims and objectives – to improve the quality and energy efficiency of homes in Bellsbank, to help regenerate the community and make an impact on the health and wellbeing of local people.
The Scottish Civic Trust were the first partners on board, helping to design a coloured render programme that transformed homes within the village. Special assemblies took place within Bellsbank Primary to discuss the power of colour and pupils gave names to the new colours, each with a strong local influence.
The HAS team also develop a strong partnership with the NHS with person centre support being provided to communities in a number of important areas including Pharmacy First, alcohol and drug concerns and the promotion of NHS initiatives to reduce demand on services.
Community activities based around cooking on a budget also took place last summer thanks to a partnership between the Council team, main contractor Engie and Centrestage.
The team also encouraged the community to participate in projects designed to improve green spaces and gardens within Bellsbank. The local social enterprise group was provided with new lawnmowers, strimmers, hedge cutters and power washers. These items are now available to anyone who wants to help keep Bellsbank clean and green.
Councillor Elena Whitham, Cabinet Member for Housing and Communities added: “I am so proud of our Housing Asset Services team and the wonderful work they have carried out throughout East Ayrshire. They have put the community at the heart of everything they do, looking for ways to help community groups, supporting and encouraging positive change in our neighbourhoods.
“The team worked with CANI, a mother’s group from Bellsbank, directly supporting the youth club and helping to introduce a dignified food programme, helping those who need it most in a compassionate way. There are now 70 children and young people attending the youth club each week and this has led to a decline in antisocial behaviour.
“Bellsbank was just the beginning; this initiative is now being rolled out to communities throughout East Ayrshire. This work exemplifies the importance of transformational change, and why we should put people at the heart of everything we do.”