For many in the housing sector, collaborative exercises such as sharing services, joint ventures and strategic alliances have proved extremely difficult and in some cases have remained a pipedream rather than a reality. That hasn’t been the case for a group of twelve BME housing associations, who in January 2016, chose to embark on a series of collaborative projects.
Today marks the launch of a report, commissioned jointly by the group and prepared by Altair, to provide insights into their journey to joint working, as well as highlighting the lessons learnt along the way.
The shared objectives of the project were to deliver enhanced value for money for residents, communities and organisations, share best practice and to provide opportunities for residents to access to services, such as employment support, that the Housing Associations would be unable to deliver alone.
These projects, launched by David Orr, CEO of the NHF on 25 July 2016, have come at a time when collaboration has never been more relevant or necessary. The sector as a whole faces immense challenges and uncertainty in delivering services within the current operating environment.
Gina Amoh Chief Executive of Inquilab Housing Association said; “The project was built on a shared vision across the boards and executive leadership of the housing associations involved. We are proud to have achieved a level of trust and understanding between the group and look forward to working together to realise real benefits for our residents and local communities.”
The key finding of the report is that the group has demonstrated that collaboration can be the ‘art of the possible’, but that it takes time, commitment and not least compromise in order to be achievable.
By working together on areas including employment, procurement and learning and development they will be able to take advantage of increased capacity, better use of resources, and greater efficiency and effectiveness in the delivery of services.
Altair partner Steve Douglas, who has worked with the group since the planning stages of the project said, “The commitment of all the organisations taking part has been a key factor in the success of the project to date. It will help them deliver more and improved services to their residents, while also realising efficiency benefits.”
Successful collaboration isn’t an easy feat. There have been a number of lessons learnt from the process which may be useful for others, such as leading from the top, remaining flexible and taking the time to build up trust.
The report also outlines their next steps and future ambitions, where working together remains a fundamental pillar to ensuring that they can tackle the challenges ahead and continue to deliver high quality and efficient services to their customers.
Now the group have established a long-term and embedded approach to joint working, they will be able to seek out other opportunities to achieve greater VfM in the future.