Investing in the community is a huge part of Southway’s commitment to our tenants and residents, and since 2015, has been one of our four strategic priorities.
Southway aims to create thriving communities by investing in the people who live in our homes and neighbourhoods. By doing this, we’re able to deliver social outcomes across the region and ensure it’s a great place to live.
Investments as they stand
Each year we invest £1 million into a variety of community projects and services, either run by ourselves or by local or partner organisations. A large tax rebate in 2018 meant that we were able to invest an additional £600,000 into funding new and existing projects. This meant that we could increase our investment-per-home from £165 in 2017, to £196 for the following two years.
This figure is more than three times the average £56-per-home spend of UK housing providers, and demonstrates the significance we place on community investment.
We are proud that this investment has also made consistent social returns. In 2018, our investment into social and community work made a return of £12 million*, which was 13 times the cost of the services provided. Our Advice Services team also secured an additional £2.1 million of welfare benefits for our tenants, 8 times the cost of the service that the team provides.
The need to evaluate
Whilst we are pleased with this achievement, we are keen to keep evaluating this very important area of work. Where such a significant spend is concerned, we want to ensure the investment focuses on what matters most to our tenants and the community. We know we are accountable for using our investment to support the people in the Southway area and achieve the best possible outcomes.
We are also conscious that ever-changing social and political issues mean it is vital to regularly assess how we invest in the community. The increasing poverty experienced by residents, both in and out of work, reform to the benefits system and challenges this brings about, and the ageing tenant population, are only a selection of current issues to consider when we assess the impact of our investments.
Holding the Symposium
We therefore decided to host a Social Value Symposium, using a robust method established by For Viva. The aim was to present a selection of our investment choices to a panel of expert external authorities, who would be able to challenge our work and advise on how we could improve our services for the future. The outcome of the panel’s guidance would then go on to directly influence our strategy and priorities for the future.
We shared case studies for 30 different Social Investment projects and services with the panel. Of these the panel selected 10 to be presented and discussed at the Symposium.
- Naturally Occurring Retirement Community (NORC)
- Welfare Advice
- Apprentice Programme
- Quids In
- Burnage Age Friendly
- Westcroft Community Centre
- Tidy Homes Tidy Minds
- Spring/Fall into Work
- Be Well
The Panel was asked use their knowledge of our communities to give their views on the projects and guide us on what is important for us to invest in. The panel was:
- Sam Macwilliam – Chair of Parent Board
- Martin Saker – Manchester City Council Neighbourhood Manager
- Tim Whiston – Local Councillor
- Rebecca Elliot – BMCA Learning Hub
- Eleanor Walker – Southway Housing Trust staff member and local resident
- Michael Salmon - Our Manchester
- Memuna Begum – Parent Board
Jeff Smith MP opened the event and championed the projects presented, having seen the impact of many.
The Symposium went fantastically well and everyone involved agreed that the feedback provided by the panel was perceptive, valuable and motivating. It was particularly useful to gain insight into how our areas of investment could benefit from linking up with other initiatives taking place across South Manchester.
The feedback will be incorporated into our Futures Strategy and social projects as we take them forward into the next year.