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 and for more on Compass Support visit

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 Alternatively please call 0121 748 8100.

Please send expressions of interest to by Friday 22nd September 2023.

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

For more on The Pioneer Group visit and for more on Compass Support visit

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 and for more on Compass Support visit

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 and for more on Compass Support visit

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 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 

For more on The Pioneer Group visit and for more on Compass Support visit

COMMUNITY ANCHORS: Pupils employability takes centre stage as Hippodrome showcases project

Words by Karen Graze / Pics supplied by The Pioneer Group

Youth Unemployment is stubbornly high in the city, greater than the national average.

So the Partnerships team at The Pioneer Group decided to take action on this in order to support our communities and the next generation.

Since September we have been working on an employability and pathways project with Year 11 pupils in East Birmingham, coaching and mentoring them and supporting them with their post 16 choices.

Now that the academic year is coming to an end, we are undertaking a Partnership for People and Place legacy project by staging a play – Antigone Rescratched at the Hippodrome in Birmingham.

The whole process has allowed young people to develop their employability skills through working together on the play through teamwork, presentation skills, creative thinking and following instructions.

The performance itself will provide them with invaluable work experience.

The aim of the legacy theatre project itself was to address the lack of work experience opportunities for some young people in a post covid environment and offer experience in the creative industry, something which is often overlooked as an option for people from certain communities.

Today’s performance will be the cherry on the cake of our successful project and hopefully inspire and empower those involved to dream big and consider working in industries they never thought possible.

For more on The Pioneer Group visit and for more on Compass Support visit

COMMUNITY ANCHORS: Homes project tackles housing shortage

Words & pics supplied by Castle Vale Community Housing

As the sector continues to battle a national housing shortage, Castle Vale Community Housing (CVCH) is delivering a project which aims to buck the trend and provide low-income earners with safe, affordable homes.

A partnership with Miller Homes has resulted in the acquisition and development of 42 properties in Sutton Coldfield – 24 affordable homes for rent and 18 for shared ownership.

Dave Livesey, Director of Development and Asset Management at CVCH, said: “As a community landlord we are very conscious of the lack of affordable housing in the area and are duty bound to provide as much support as we can.”

Since being established in 2015, The Pioneer Group has built a nationally recognised reputation for community regeneration that is resident led, delivering homes for CVCH.

This latest project on Rectory Road in Sutton Coldfield follows similar CVCH successful schemes on Station Road in Stechford, Webster Court in Erdington and Farnborough Road in Castle Vale. The initial rental properties will be let through Birmingham City Council.

“Our plan is to increase our stock number by over 10 per cent by 2027,” adds Dave.

“This represents the single biggest development programme for the Pioneer Group since its creation and affirms our commitment to doing our bit to addressing the housing crisis.”

Alastair Parsons, Area Sales Director for Miller Homes Midlands, said: “We are delighted to work with The Pioneer Group to deliver affordable homes in the desirable setting of Sutton Coldfield.

“Once the location of a former Ministry of Defence (MOD) office building, we are proud to have regenerated the site into a range of energy efficient new homes.

“Building communities is at the heart of what we do at Miller Homes and we hope the new residents will enjoy their new homes for many years to come.”

For more on The Pioneer Group visit and for more on Compass Support visit

COMMUNITY ANCHORS: Property upgrades will reduce costs

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

We are very pleased to announce that Castle Vale Community Housing is receiving help from a Government scheme to help reduce the environmental impact of our homes. CVCH will be matching the Governments grant on works that will help drive down costs to our tenants. This will result in a total of £1.4 million being spent to upgrade 77 homes on Castle Vale.

Works will include installation of underfloor, loft and cavity wall insulation, solar panels and ventilation systems. The wellbeing of our tenants is our priority and these improvements will not only support people through what is currently a difficult time financially but is part of our wider social responsibility to reduce our organisational carbon footprint – playing our small part in saving the planet.

The properties have been specially selected for energy efficiency works as they are some of our worst performing homes – meaning tenants energy bills can be greatly reduced. The works will ensure the homes achieve an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of at least a C – helping to reduce the carbon emissions, make them warmer and prevent damp and mould issues from arising.

It is becoming more and more important that homes are as sustainable as they can be with environmental issues and energy concerns having a far greater impact on daily life than ever before.

Work on the 77 properties is expected to start April 2024 and run until June 2025.

For more on The Pioneer Group visit and for more on Compass Support visit

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

COMMUNITY ANCHORS: Compassionate Communities project will help break down death stigma

Words & pics supplied by The Pioneer Group

Compass Support, the charitable arm of The Pioneer Group, has been granted funding through BVSC on behalf of Birmingham City Council as part of its Compassionate Communities project to work with local individuals and groups to help break down the walls surrounding death, so people can talk more openly and constructively about dying by creating Community Connectors.

The Community Connectors help support residents who may otherwise feel isolated including people at the end-of-life stage, their carers and also those who may have recently lost a loved one.

The Compassionate Communities team have created an engaged, accessible route to go out into the local community to find these Community Connectors. So far, the team have delivered 8 training workshops, organised 13 awareness sessions and trained over 50 Community Connectors.

Isobel Hayward, Health and Wellbeing Project Organiser from Compass Support, said “The Compassionate Communities scheme was bought to us through Birmingham City Council, as facilitators of compassion, to bring it to anyone in the community that engages with people.

“We have loved running workshops on how to approach death and end of life, and going forward people will know who to call for help with bereavement, end of life, and financial support.

“Our awareness sessions on end of life are completely free and open to community groups and individuals.

“The people of Birmingham have been recognised for their compassion in the way communities have supported each other during some of the most difficult times, crowning Birmingham the UK’s first Compassionate City.”

If you would like more information on Compassionate Communities or think that you could be a Community Connector, please email us at: or telephone 0121 748 8111.

For more on The Pioneer Group visit and for more on Compass Support visit

COMMUNITY ANCHORS: “Our volunteers are simply incredible” – a thank you to volunteers from Compass Support

Words & pics supplied by Compass Support

The teams at Compass Support have been paying tribute to the special and wonderful volunteers that continue to give their time and energy to helping those in need. Volunteers Week takes place 1-7 June every year and is the chance to recognise the fantastic contribution volunteers make to our communities and say thank you.

As part of Volunteers Week 2023, teams at The Sanctuary, Castle Vale have been recognising those who are dedicated to supporting the residents of Castle Vale and the wider community.

A special social media campaign showcased the efforts and contribution of volunteers in helping to deliver community activities across Castle Vale and surrounding areas.

Health and Wellbeing Project Lead for Compass Support, Leonie Hammond, said: “Our volunteers are simply incredible, they give valuable time each week to deliver activities and assist others to build new friendships and learn new skills.”

Volunteering has several key benefits for individuals, including better mental health, improved self-esteem and a greater sense of wellbeing.

If you would like to know more about volunteering opportunities with Compass Support please call 0121 748 8111.

For more on Compass Support visit

For more on The Pioneer Group visit