Winner Housing manages a mixture of emergency, supported and general needs housing for women fleeing domestic abuse, owning 205 homes for supported and general needs housing across the city. Tenants housed by Winner can be in a transient stage of life, as they try to cope with traumatic events; they can be hard to reach given the dispersed nature of the properties and the fact that many do not have access to a phone or computer. This also makes the occupancy status of homes difficult to track as in some cases tenants may leave with little notice given.
Using Alertacall’s service has increased visibility in tackling property issues, improving repairs performance and increasing two-way engagement, which has continued to be a focus for housing providers following publication of the Social Housing White Paper in November 2020.
From April to September 2021, Housing Proactive enabled more than 76,000 touch-points with Winner Housing’s customers, which were a mixture of inbound or outbound calls from Alertacall’s dedicated Call Centre or interaction with the devices.
Furthermore, there were 1,353 housing or neighbourhood issues raised by Alertacall to housing staff for further investigation, as well as 397 calls from residents relating to repairs completed, with all other repairs calls completed via a Special hotline button.
As part of Alertacall’s enhanced housing management service, Housing Proactive, tenants are given a portable touchscreen device, with an any network 4G SIM card meaning WiFi is not required. Through engaging with the device, tenants are able to easily access news, updates and other important information in relation to their property. If tenants choose not to engage with their device, a highly trained member of the Alertacall team will call them. Specific training and safeguarding protocols were developed working alongside the team at Winner to address the needs of women fleeing domestic abuse.
In keeping with the Social Housing White Paper’s drive to improve two-way engagement with residents, Winner Housing has found that consistent communication via the Housing Proactive service is helping to improve repairs performance and monitor the occupancy status of properties. In addition, regular contact with its customers is also helping to ease feelings of anxiety and improve the safety of tenants and has been invaluable throughout the pandemic.
Tenants are also able to report any repairs through a free repairs app provided on the device. Furthermore, Winner introduced Alertacall’s environmental sensors into their properties to monitor the humidity and temperature levels in homes and help tackle fuel poverty. Data collected hourly from the sensor continually monitors environmental aspects, which can indicate dampness, poor ventilation and heating failures, all adding to the repairs and maintenance costs for the housing provider.
Alison Ashton, Domestic Abuse and Housing Service Manager – Winner Housing, said:
“We sometimes forget how vital the Housing Proactive service is to us; the two-way communication the system provides for our tenants makes them feel like people are bothered about them.
“The key part of what Housing Proactive offers is the consistent communication; tenants know they can contact us if they need to and we can contact them. There’s so many benefits; we can look at patterns of usage which shows if people are living in their property. Housing Proactive enables us to use our portfolio of property to the best ability.
“With the fuel crisis, we have really been trying to educate our tenants that heating will be cheaper if you have it on at a lower temperature for longer instead of an instant ramping up of the heat. The system is also useful to address fuel poverty, with our customers at risk of overheating or underheating.”
“I like having the system and knowing I can contact the Call Centre; makes me feel like people are bothered about me.”
“It is so good to have this in my property. It makes me feel safer, as I can always contact someone.”
“It makes it easier for me to report repairs as soon as I see them.”
Benjamin Lambert, Head of Client Relations – Alertacall, said:
“A year on from the publication of the Social Housing White Paper, the deployment of the touchscreen and environmental sensors into properties is enabling a more effective two-way conversation with Winner’s tenants, either digitally or verbally with our team. With more than 76,000 customer touch-points over a six month period, the service is helping to detect maintenance issues and making it easy for Winner to message tenants with information in relation to their tenancy. Importantly, in a way which is non-intrusive and tailored to individual needs.”
Assisted by data from the Housing Proactive system, Winner is offering its best practice expertise to other women sector organisations across the country, helping to develop their own portfolio for women experiencing domestic abuse, providing social investment expertise to lease properties.