We're celebrating after receiving highly commended and winning at the this year's Kent Housing Group Excellence Awards
HOUSE wins ‘Best Community Project’ .
HOUSE is a youth led community group in Edenbridge run by West Kent and funded by partners including; Edenbridge Town Council, The Great Stone Bridge Trust of Edenbridge, Moat, and Sevenoaks District Council.
The youth group is open to anyone between 11-19 and runs three times a week. On average, 25 young people attend the Friday session, and around 12-15 attend weekday sessions. HOUSE is supported by West Kent staff, but the group is directed by young people in the Edenbridge Youth Forum.
Throughout the week, the group discusses a variety of topics that affect young people on a day to day basis, including:
- Drugs, alcohol and smoking
- Sex education
- Anti-social behaviour
- Mental health
HOUSE also works with young people to identify additional interests and how best they can meet them. For example, running a cooking course alongside a Food Hygiene level one course and helping young people through the Construction Skills Certification Scheme
HOUSE was nominated for the award by Youth Services Manager, Charlotte Ede. She says:
“Without this project, there would be no support for young people in Edenbridge. HOUSE gives them a space to be safe and supported without judgement. HOUSE has an easy going, flexible approach to youth work that is received well and respected by young people in the area. Their relationship with the community, the young people, council and police has seen very positive outcomes.”
Rebecca Curtis, Tenancy Services Officer awarded Highly Commended in the Excellent Young Professional category.
She is managing a challenging patch, where there are lots of ongoing anti-social behaviour issues, lots of new builds and demanding schedules to get residents signed up. Rebecca has shown her versatility at dealing with some demanding issues. Rebecca’s has developed a really solid grounding of most of the housing issues that come her way. She has developed a good reputation with colleagues and residents, and no challenge is too much for her.
Genette Pinwill, Head of Housing says: “Rebecca will always go the extra mile for our tenants. She demonstrates a unique combination of compassion and tenacity to achieve the best outcomes for everybody.”
Sarah Palmer, iNHomes Maintenance Engineer awarded Highly Commended in the Excellent Young Professional category.
Sarah joined West Kent as a Plumbing Apprentice. She has been with us less than a year yet is already proving herself to be an outstanding plumber. She studies one day a week at London South East college and her sheer hard work and determination mean that she has almost finished the course, despite being only three quarters of the way through the year. She is expected to be finished in February next year rather than the summer of 2020. She has achieved 100% attendance so far and has passed every exam first time. She has been awarded as Apprentice of the Year within the Plumbing Sector at the college.
Sarah’s manager and mentor Louis is full of praise for her as she is such a willing and capable student. He can already rely on her to undertake almost any job and complete it to a high standard. He says: "She wants to do the best job she can, and tenants really notice. They always comment how great it is for West Kent to have a female plumber – especially one so talented. They always ask me how she’s getting on and take a real interest in her progress. She’s a real credit to West Kent."
Woodlands Court, Swanley awarded Highly Commended in the Excellence in Development category.
Woodlands Court is West Kent’s latest senior residential development in Swanley. The scheme consists of 31 high-quality, one and two-bedroom apartments providing affordable, independent living for over 55s. The stunning building replaces a community of flats in Northview, which were tired and no longer fit for purpose.
Woodlands Court provides the final piece of our Swanley older person’s community jigsaw. West Kent owns two additional senior living developments nearby, Bonney Court and White Oak Court. Together the three developments have successfully created a larger social community for over 55s.
Resident Kathleen says: “I just fell in love with it instantly,” said Kathleen, “It has the most amazing views, it felt like home as soon as I walked through the door. Because it has two bedrooms there’s plenty of room for the grandchildren to stay. The building is just so well designed. The rooms are all well laid out, spacious and it’s all decorated well. It’s been designed to last because everything has been so well thought out.”
Deborah White, Housing Director received the Special Recognition award, for her work over the years at both West Kent and the Kent Housing Group.
Though Deborah retired in late October, throughout her years in housing she has championed tenants tirelessly and gained a reputation for driving forward improvements - focussing services around the customer and developing others. She has time for everyone, for her team members, for colleagues in other housing associations and for tenants.
Deborah has been the driving force behind West Kent's culture and values. In the words of Head of Housing Genette, she has given the organisation ‘a heart and a pulse’. She has worked hard to ensure that she leaves a legacy that will ensure that the values are embedded throughout and that staff are demonstrating positive behaviours.
Ex Tenant Board Member, Joanne Frawley says: "Deborah is an extraordinary talented, dedicated and committed advocate of social housing. She has the unique ability to inspire others to take ownership, while keeping herself very much informed about almost everything within her remit and beyond. I’ve marvelled at her energy, her wise logical thinking, but most of all her empathy and compassion."