Around two and a half years ago, VIVID’s community response to the Covid-19 pandemic was in full swing. We were providing funding to foodbanks and local charities, as well as ensuring our customers had access to IT devices which were vital in helping them cope with the ‘new normal’ of lockdown, online school classes and social isolation.
We’d received amazing feedback and we wanted to make it a permanent initiative. And so, VIVID Plus was born.
VIVID Plus incorporates all our tenancy sustainment services, including money advice and benefits, employment and training, and wellbeing. In the past year, we’ve secured an additional £5.8m of income for our customers and helped 182 customers back into work.
It doesn’t stop there. We also provide funding for place-shaping activities, to create places where people feel proud to live. Ultimately, we are driven to change and support our customers and the communities within, being surrounded and living in a neighbourhood where they feel safe and secure. It’s about empowering communities to organise and take action together to address the things that matter to them in their households, homes, communities and neighbourhoods. Knowing you have the chance and opportunities to make a difference and influence the surroundings for others is a powerful thing.
Our communities can shape so many things, from how we feel, maybe how we behave and so much more. Having access to initiatives within the community which work to reduce health inequalities including food and fuel poverty, can support our customers to live in healthy environments.
We know there is still stigma and opinions formed around living in a housing association home. We want to continue to challenge this social stigma and make it so that living in a VIVID home and neighbourhood will be a matter of pride.
Sometimes we may be faced with the vicious cycle of trying to get a job, learn some new skills, get online and yet may not have access to the facilities, know where to start and come full circle. We are helping to prevent customers being excluded from digital technologies and the opportunities these bring. Our teams are able to guide, advise, teach and break that circle. Facilitating opportunities for communities to grow, learn and earn.
We used the Housing Associations’ Charitable Trust (HACT)’s community insight tool to ensure our investment was targeted into the areas of most need within our operating area. We then consulted with the community, local authorities and other agencies working there to develop local plans.
Our work supports the following:
We work with a range of voluntary and statutory partners to tackle food poverty, such as food banks in Basingstoke, Portsmouth, Southampton and more, as well as community gardening projects to help grow food for the pantries.
Music workshops and sport sessions are great creative opportunities and outlets for young people, and we support a range of these in our local areas.
For instance, we work with the Hampshire Cricket Board to run free cricket sessions. 107 young people attended in the last year, which consequently saw a drop in anti-social behaviour in the vicinity.
We continue to support the Housing First project in different local authority areas, giving homeless people another option where the more traditional hostel route doesn’t meet their needs.
Opportunities to grow, learn and earn
We provide funding to New Skills Academy who run online digital courses, and Action Hampshire who offer support for VCSE organisations, cost of living finances, and community-led projects.
Case study spotlight
We’ve been working with the Fighting Chance Foundation in a number of ways, and recently helped them to become a Community Interest Company (CIC). They hold structured martial arts training and engagement sessions to break the cycle of abuse and poverty, tackle knife crime and intervene in a wide range of social crisis-points.
After becoming aware of a child of one of our customers, who was in danger and under threat from County Lines peers, we asked the Fighting Chance Foundation to engage with them. They’ve now been helping them for four weeks and counting, attending the sessions and turning their life around.
This is just one example of the incredible impact they can have.
The work we do under this arm of VIVID has been invaluable to helping our customers and communities thrive, supporting them to stay safe and healthy. It’s a significant part of achieving our vision of ‘more homes, bright futures’ and something we’ll continue for as long as we possibly can.