COMMUNITY ANCHORS: New faces for the year ahead at The Pioneer Group

Words & pics supplied by The Pioneer Group


 
There have been a series of changes to the Board at The Pioneer Group and the organisation’s charitable arm Compass Support.

The Birmingham based social housing landlord, with a portfolio of more than 2,700 properties, has announced new Members and Chairs as it continues to work with service providers and stakeholders, to deliver community-led housing solutions alongside essential support services around youth, family support, health and employment.

Hiten Patel, Jason Clarke and James Emblow have been appointed to the Pioneer Board.

Hiten, a Governance and Risk Director at an international technology organisation, brings extensive skills in strategic, commercial, and financial direction. Jason, the Head of Development for the Midlands Region of Orbit Homes, has more than 25 years of experience within the social housing sector while James, the Head of Property Analytics at Paradigm Housing Group, boasts 18 years of experience in social housing and specialises in operational property management processes, systems and data.


 
In addition, Kate Algate, Company Director at VISAV Limited, has been appointed chair of the Compass Support Board. With more 20 years of community engagement and participation experience as well as charity leadership, she also has a strong background in policing, crime prevention and community safety.

Phil Done, a Grants and Relationship Manager for Birmingham Voluntary Service Council (BVSC), has been appointed as the Vice-Chair on the Compass Support Board.  Phil has worked in the Voluntary Sector since 2015. Phil will be taking over from Barbara Hedley, who will be standing down from the Board in September.

Two new trustees have also been recruited to the Compass Board with Castle Vale resident Natalie Downey joining Rebecca Young, who has held senior leadership roles in Local Government and currently works in the infrastructure sector.


 
For more information regarding Board Members and Chairs, please visit: www.pioneergroup.org.uk/about-us/our-team

For more on The Pioneer Group visit www.pioneergroup.org.uk and for more on Compass Support visit www.compass-support.org.uk

Castle Vale Community Housing, The Pioneer Group, and Compass Support are key partners in the Erdington Local COMMUNITY ANCHORS programme, supporting independent local and community journalism.

COMMUNITY ANCHORS: Key housing milestone for pioneering partnership

Words & pics supplied by Hema Chumber, The Pioneer Group


 
The Pioneer Group is a key partner of the Matrix Housing Partnership (MHP) which is celebrating a key milestone with the start of the GreenSquareAccord development at Swan Lane, West Bromwich – it’s 2,000th home.

In 2018 MHP was awarded an initial £84.5 million from Homes England to support delivery of 2,124 social and affordable homes across the West Midlands. A further £185 million has since been secured from the Government’s Affordable Homes Programme to support development of an additional 2,167 affordable homes.

MHP also comprises GSA, Black Country Housing Group, Citizen Housing Group, Rooftop Housing Association and Trident Housing Association.


 
Dave Livesey, Director of Development and Asset Management at Pioneer said: “Pioneer is proud to work with Matrix Partners on the delivery of affordable housing in the region.

“There is a chronic shortage in of good quality affordable housing across the country and marking the delivery of the 2,000th home with Matrix is important in recognising the role we have played in this.

“Pioneer is committed to providing Great Safe Homes and using our grant allocation from Homes England with our own resources ensures that we are doing what we can to address housing across the city.”

The Swan Lane development will provide 147 affordable homes for affordable and social rent.

Ruth Cooke, Chair of Matrix Housing Partnership and Chief Executive of GSA, said: “It is an honour for the Matrix Housing Partnership to be recognised as a key strategic partner of Homes England. We have been collaborating for nearly 20 years and the construction start at Swan Lane demonstrates our continued success in delivering affordable homes.”

For more on The Pioneer Group visit www.pioneergroup.org.uk and for more on Compass Support visit www.compass-support.org.uk

The Pioneer Group and Compass Support are key partners in the Erdington Local COMMUNITY ANCHORS programme, supporting independent local and community journalism.

COMMUNITY ANCHORS: Castle Vale Stadium

Words by Simon Wilson, Chief Executive Officer – The Pioneer Group

It is great to see the opening of a second new 3G football pitch at Castle Vale Stadium. This will increase capacity for more users, help us to meet the growing demand for women and girls’ football and increase opportunities to expand provision for disabled users and walking football.

It is somewhat unusual for a social housing provider to run a football facility but when we took on the long-term lease from Birmingham City Council we secured the future for an important community facility that was failing, starting to look unsightly and attracting vandalism.

The Stadium is located at the heart of Farnborough Fields, right next to Greenwood Academy. The school provides an enhanced sporting offer through a partnership with the Stadium.

In addition to the 3G pitches we have refurbished the venue’s bar and function room and created additional parking space. We continue to support grass roots football through the local Castle Vale Town club which has the vast majority of its young team members from the estate.

We also lead on the Farnborough Fields Masterplan group which brings together a range of local stakeholders. Alongside Greenwood Academy, we also work with organisations like the Community Environmental Trust who do so much hard work to sustain and create attractive green spaces in the area.

Partnership work with the city council is looking at creating an inline speed skating facility while work with the West Midlands Combined Authority aims to secure a passenger train station and service for Castle Vale.

We will shortly be looking to extend the lease on the site for another 25 years, so we can continue to protect, develop and invest in facilities for residents in the heart of our community.

For more on The Pioneer Group visit www.pioneergroup.org.uk and for more on Compass Support visit www.compass-support.org.uk

The Pioneer Group and Compass Support are key partners in the Erdington Local COMMUNITY ANCHORS programme, supporting independent local and community journalism.

COMMUNITY ANCHORS: Halloween Spotlights Loan Sharks

Words by Hema Chumber


 
To mark Stop Loan Sharks Week 2023, Spitfire Support Services is delivering three Halloween themed events across Castle Vale to raise awareness of this hidden crime in communities.

The activities, funded by the England Illegal Money Lending Team and supported in partnership by Castle Vale Community Housing, Starbucks and Switch Radio aim to engage people while providing insight into the dangers of unauthorised money lenders.

A Halloween Fashion Show takes place at Starbucks on 31 October for families to strut the catwalk in their outfits and win prizes. On the same day at Castle Vale Library there will be arts and crafts sessions, a special screening of A Sharks Tale and a Halloween haunted maze while a Stakeholder Presentation and Workshop at The Sanctuary on 1 November will give residents the chance to speak to learn more about the inherent dangers of borrowing from loan sharks.


 
The England Illegal Money Lending Team (IMLT), also known as Stop Loan Sharks, investigates and prosecutes illegal money lenders and also supports victims.

Figures show that 56 per cent of the people supported by the IMLT in the first half of 2023 said they borrowed from someone they thought was a friend. This year’s Stop Loan Sharks Week has the theme ‘Behind the Mask’ with the aim of raising awareness within communities like Castle Vale that illegal lenders can often be hard to spot.


 
Tony Quigley, head of the IMLT, said: “These illegal money lenders are experts at deception. They are friendly and approachable at first, but when the time comes to make the repayments they can show their true face – a ruthless criminal intent on exploiting the most vulnerable.

“We want people to be aware that not all illegal money lenders look like they do on TV. They can be another mum in the playground, a neighbour, a work colleague, even a longstanding family friend.

“But it is a mask and behind it they are not your friend; they are lining their own pockets at your expense and ruining lives. There are far safer ways of accessing affordable credit, like credit unions. If anyone thinks they have been targeted in this way, they should contact our specialist team of advisers in confidence for help and support.”

Ward Councillor, Raymond Goodwin, who is also the Director at Spitfire Support Services, said: “Many families over the last 12 months have struggled because of the cost of living crisis and have not been able to pay for basic essentials unfortunately we have seen an upturn in loan sharks being accessed.

“These events are all about the dangers of using loan sharks and also how there are alternative methods of safe finance that can be accessed.”

Anyone who thinks they have been targeted by an illegal money lender or has information about illegal lending is urged to contact the IMLT in confidence.

People can call the 24/7 confidential hotline on 0300 555 222 or visit the website www.stoploansharks.co.uk where there is a live chat facility from 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday.

For further details on the three Halloween events please visit the Castle Vale Community Housing Facebook page. 

For more on The Pioneer Group visit www.pioneergroup.org.uk and for more on Compass Support visit www.compass-support.org.uk

The Pioneer Group and Compass Support are key partners in the Erdington Local COMMUNITY ANCHORS programme, supporting independent local and community journalism.

COMMUNITY ANCHORS: Partnership and collaboration in the face of adversity

Words by Simon Wilson, Chief Executive Officer – The Pioneer Group

There have been some scary headlines about the City Council’s need to serve what is known as a Section 114 notice and while I would not seek to downplay the seriousness of the financial challenges Birmingham now faces, there is a commitment to protect core services and work is underway to set out a recovery plan.

We will support this effort. We have looked at the areas of funding we receive from the local authority and have not identified an immediate impact to services our tenants and residents receive.

As an anchor organisation we have always sought and had a strong working relationship with the City Council and a range of partners in our core communities – working closely with tenant groups, charities like Spitfire Services, faith groups, community groups and schools.

We worked together to help people through the Covid-19 pandemic and are taking the same approach to helping those most vulnerable and in need of support through our Cost of Living Task Force.

Of course this latest news is a worry and the Council will face some tough decisions as it starts to balance its books but our services will continue through CVCH and Compass Support. We will continue to work in partnership supporting other organisations, working together and getting out of the way when others are best placed to deliver in our communities.

I know when things get tough our community responds, Spitfire Services rescued and now run Castle Vale Library and swimming pool and CVCH runs – and is investing in – the Castle Vale Stadium.

We will work with whoever we need to in order to protect the facilities and services our communities hold dear.

For more on The Pioneer Group visit www.pioneergroup.org.uk and for more on Compass Support visit www.compass-support.org.uk

The Pioneer Group and Compass Support are key partners in the Erdington Local COMMUNITY ANCHORS programme, supporting independent local and community journalism.

 

COMMUNITY ANCHORS: New Housing Act to challenge landlord’s behaviour

Words by Simon Wilson, Chief Executive Officer – The Pioneer Group

The past few years have seen some of the most significant events in social housing, with the Grenfell fire tragedy in 2017 and more recent issues such as Awaab Ishak’s death bringing conversations around the adequacy of social housing and especially the lack of tenant involvement and empowerment with some landlords, to the fore.

It’s quite right that landlords are held to account by both the regulator and housing ombudsman but, most importantly, by their tenants for how they behave.

All of this sets the context for The Social Housing (Regulation) Act 2023, which became law in July. It is intended to drive a new proactive approach to regulating social housing, ensuring standards are met and action is taken against failing landlords. The Act itself describes its purpose as being to “reform the regulatory regime to drive significant change in landlord behaviour.”

As a community focussed landlord Castle Vale Community Housing has always remained focussed on who we are here to serve, so we welcome this update and the new powers of the regulator. This is evidenced by our success in retaining the highest possible ratings from our Regulator last year. Our current plans already focus on great safe homes and creating strong vibrant communities.

Like all landlords, we cannot be complacent in any way We will use this new legislation to double down on our tenant priorities and get even better at engaging with tenants and residents ensuring the voice of our tenants continues to be at the heart of everything we do.

For more on The Pioneer Group visit www.pioneergroup.org.uk and for more on Compass Support visit www.compass-support.org.uk

The Pioneer Group and Compass Support are key partners in the Erdington Local COMMUNITY ANCHORS programme, supporting independent local and community journalism.

(Ed’s note: This column was first submitted to the Erdington Local newspaper on 4 September, before the announcement of a Section 114 notice issued by Birmingham City Council.)

COMMUNITY ANCHORS: Become a Castle Vale Community Housing Board member and help shape change

Words & pics supplied by The Pioneer Group

Castle Vale Community Housing (CVCH) grew out of the re-development of Castle Vale Estate which started with many tenants and residents attending a meeting with Birmingham City Council regarding getting a Housing Action Trust on Castle Vale.

In 2004 Castle Vale Community Housing Association took responsibility for the management of the stock and in 2015 it created The Pioneer Group, with a mission to continue to work with communities around Castle Vale and to build and acquire homes to meet housing needs.

We are now looking for resident/community Board members to join our Castle Vale Community Housing Board which is responsible for the day-to-day management of the core services around housing, repairs, community safety and environmental issues at CVCH. This includes an active role in decision making and shaping the services that are important to tenants and residents.

Our Board consists of up to nine Board members, and it is important to us that a majority are tenants and residents with direct experience of receiving our services. We hold up to five meetings per year and arrange at least one joint Board away event each year.

Board away events, development activities and training will also be arranged throughout the year.

The successful candidate will have the following essential attributes:

A commitment to including the community, and to meeting its needs.
The ability and willingness to learn and take a genuine interest in our work.
The ability to make constructive contributions to discussion, and bring new perspectives and ideas.

We would specifically encourage applications from people with skills and an interest in how we can continue to improve the management of our services to meet the needs of tenants and residents of the Castle Vale estate.

Meetings take place around five times per year starting in the early evening and last approximately 2 hours.

For further information or a discussion about the role, please contact Kate Foley on Kate.Foley@cvch.org.uk. Alternatively please call 0121 748 8100.

Please send expressions of interest to GovernanceAssuranceTeam@pioneergroup.org.uk by Friday 22nd September 2023.

Interviews will be held on the 10th or 13th October. 

For more on The Pioneer Group visit www.pioneergroup.org.uk and for more on Compass Support visit www.compass-support.org.uk

COMMUNITY ANCHORS: Castle Vale Stadium event launches new community services

Words & pics supplied by The Pioneer Group

A new era in community engagement kicks off on Saturday 12 August when Castle Vale Stadium unveils its brand new 3G pitch.

From 9.30am to 1pm, visitors can enjoy a whole range of activities designed to showcase new opportunities like walking football, women’s football and activities for disabled people.

Leaders at the Pioneer Group say the new 3G pitch at Castle Vale Stadium will help to drive socio-economic growth and boost diversity and engagement across the local community. The project builds on previous collaboration with the Football Foundation.

Stadium Manager, Dave Travers, said: “The new pitch will provide more opportunity for people to access and use the stadium and deliver even greater diversity including women’s football, walking football and disabled groups.”

“Income generated from the extra use will be re-invested into the local community.”

Residents are invited to attend Saturday’s information day where they can find out more about the work that has taken place and learn about plans to deliver new activities and provision from the site.

Former Wolverhampton Wanderers star Karl Henry will be part of proceedings with a series of matches also taking place to engage attendees.

For more on The Pioneer Group visit www.pioneergroup.org.uk and for more on Compass Support visit www.compass-support.org.uk

COMMUNITY ANCHORS: Employment Opportunities For Our Residents

Words by Simon Wilson, Chief Executive Officer – The Pioneer Group

The Pioneer Group, through our charitable arm Compass Support, is a social value partner alongside three other charities to the Peddimore Employment Park development being led by the IM Properties Group. This people focussed work benefits our local neighbourhoods and community organisations.

Moving forward, we are looking to work in partnership with IM Properties, the new employer tenants at Peddimore and other charities, over the next five years, to capitalise on the pipeline of employment opportunities the development will present to our residents.

The cost-of-living pressures faced by our residents are very much at the forefront of our thinking and our recently published strategy Work First seeks to realise this by connecting local employment opportunities with our residents. We have already capitalised on this approach with employers such as the NHS and aim to build on this approach in the months ahead.

The new Peddimore Employment Park will be located in Minworth, not far from the Asda supermarket.

For more on The Pioneer Group visit www.pioneergroup.org.uk and for more on Compass Support visit www.compass-support.org.uk

The Pioneer Group and Compass Support are key partners in the Erdington Local COMMUNITY ANCHORS programme, supporting independent local and community journalism.

COMMUNITY ANCHORS: Work with us to improve your estate

Words & pics supplied by The Pioneer Group

Do you have any concerns about your neighbourhood? Our Estate Walkabouts give residents the chance to work alongside Neighbourhood Officers to highlight issues in the local area.

Residents and officers walk the estate together, looking out for anything that makes the estate look untidy and unsafe and make a note of it. An action plan will then be created by residents and officers, determining what actions are needed to resolve the problems, a timescale for the actions and more.

Why not come along and join us on the next Estate Walkabout for your area and have a say in how you would like it to be improved?

If you are unable to come along on the day, don’t worry you can still be involved by contacting us on (0121 648 8100) or email us at contactus@cvch.org.uk where you can highlight any improvements you think would enhance your estate and have an influence in any decisions we make.

The next Walkabouts are scheduled as follows:

Tuesday 1 August 10-30-12:30am:  Meet outside at Cost Cutters Store, Farnborough Road, B35 7JG (Sowrey Area).

Thursday 2 August 10-30-12:30am, Meet outside CVCH Reception Area, High St , B35 7PX (Fairclough Area).

We look forward to seeing and meeting you!

For more information, please contact Vik Mistry, Resident Engagement Officer on 07956 007696 or Vikash.mistry@cvch.org.uk 

For more on The Pioneer Group visit www.pioneergroup.org.uk and for more on Compass Support visit www.compass-support.org.uk