In 1966 the BBC broadcasted a play written by Jeremy Sandford and directed by Ken Loach about homelessness. The play was called 'Cathy Come Home'. The drama pulled no punches. It was so powerful it galvanised hundreds of communities to house those in need.
It was in this same year that five businessmen met in Harpenden and agreed to create affordable housing for this community. In 1968 the first 26 flats were built in Harpenden by a builder who lived at Aldwyckbury Manor. This is where the name Aldwyck Housing Group derived from.
In the intervening years Aldwyck has grown to cover much of Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire. We now provide over 11,000 homes and house or help over 25,000 people.
We are 50!
2018 is our 50th year. We have a number of plans to mark this milestone including:
Fundraising for our new corporate charity, Streetlife
In 2017 we asked our colleagues to nominate charities that either operated local to us or worked in an area associated with housing. We had some great nominations which were shortlisted to five. We then had a vote. The winner by some margin was Streetlife, a Houghton Regis based charity caring for the homeless. For more information about Streetlife visit its Facebook page.
Volunteering in our communities
Our team will be given some time to volunteer in our communities. If you know of someone or something within our area that could use our help please get in touch. Perhaps a previously garden-proud neighbour is struggling to maintain it and this is impacting on their health, or a community centre needs a lick of paint, maybe an elderly neighbour needs their dog walking a couple of times a week or you know someone who could do with some help to use their device to get online. Or maybe you would like to get involved! Either way, we would love to hear from you.
50 stories for 50 years
Every week (from 8 January) we are releasing a story about our organisation either something from history or something that we are up to today. See the list of stories so far below. We hope you will continue to keep an eye on our website and on our Twitter feed to discover more about our amazing organisation. #weare50
There will definitely be cake.
#50 stories #weare50
#10 Expert untanglers of finance
For 50 years we have been providing quality accommodation for people in housing need. The background in which we have done this is ever altering with changes in Government, policy and funding. It really is no wonder that confusion abounds, particularly when it comes to finances. And perhaps at no time more abundant than with the rollout of Welfare Reform.
Our Income Maximisation Advisors (IMAs) are a small team of individuals who are expert untanglers! They provide advice to households about what they are entitled to claim and how they can optimise their income.
In the period between April and December 2017 our team helped over 1,000 households claim over £320,000 between them. For one individual this was the difference between being evicted in early December and staying in her home for Christmas due to an error by the DWP. Our Income Maximisation Officer spotted the mistake and was able to secure the payments needed to cancel the eviction and provide monthly Universal Credit payments to contribute to her rent.
If you are, or know of someone who is, struggling financially help is at hand. Your local Citizens Advice Bureau is a great starting point or make an appointment to speak to one of our IMAs over the telephone. Call 0300 500 6262.
#9 Celebrating our amazing young people
Tonight (9 March) we are attending the Broxbourne Youth Awards. We are preparing to laugh, cry, burst with pride but most importantly clap our hands sore. Every year we are inspired by the stories, acts and ambitions of young people in the Broxbourne area. Every year the celebration leaves us feeling uplifted and rightly proud of young people who so often get a bad press... but equally with aching cheeks and painful hands.
At Aldwyck we are very fortunate. We have a strong network of young people committed to improving their communities and the services we offer to their age group. We have an active Youth Council who influence and scrutinise our services. So often these youth groups have little power making them largely meaningless but not ours! They have influenced the design of our new website, changed the days on which they meet to increase attendance and they decide on how they are trained and rewarded among many other things.
We also have a very strong Youth Leaders programme. The Youth Leaders voluntarily plan and deliver community and youth projects. They organise training and volunteer in their communities for 200 hours each a year. They get involved with skip days, youth clubs, litter picks – all types of community activities. Their volunteering benefits their communities which contributes to better neighbourhoods for our customers to live.
Some of the achievements by our young people:
- Our volunteers contributed 2,072.5 hours in their communities in 2016/17
- We had 3,368 people attend our community events organised by our Youth Leaders in the same period
- Over 50 young people from our communities have completed the AQA Healthy Lifestyle Accreditation
- One of our young volunteers became confident enough to request and secure funding of £2,500 from Luton Borough Council to improve her local community.
Our Youth Council and Youth Leaders have recently been shortlisted for an Excellence in Tenant Engagement award, recognition of the positive impact young people have on our communities and services. We’ll let you know how we get on!
But back to tonight… we have a number of entries in tonight’s awards. We are keeping our fingers tightly crossed for them but whatever the outcome though we could not be more proud or grateful. Enjoy your evening.
#8 Golden times
Fifty years ago today (2 March 2018) Lyn and Alan married. Lyn and Alan are residents of one of our leasehold retirement schemes in Milton Keynes. Lyn still works and is a huge fan of the Beatles, whereas Alan has recently retired.
We look forward to celebrating our golden anniversaries together next week.
What else was happening around the 2 March 1968?
• Daniel Craig's mother had just had a little boy who would become James Bond
• It was a Saturday
• Baggeridge Colliery near Sedgley closed ending over 300 years of coal mining in the Black Country
• Cinderella Rockefella by Esther and Abi Ofarim was number one in the UK chart. It was there for three weeks
• Western ‘Day of the Evil Gun’ starring Glenn Ford and Arthur Kennedy was the number one film
• Harold Wilson was the UK prime minister
• Lyndon B Johnson was President of the United States
#7 Taylor-ing services for young people in Hertfordshire
In 1997 Swan Foyer, our young persons scheme in Berkhamsted, was opened by former England football manager Graham Taylor. Mr Taylor had just returned to the position of manager at nearby Division Two Watford Football Club at the time.
Swan Foyer is one of 20 places in Hertfordshire we manage to help young people (aged 16-25) become independent so they can eventually live in their own homes. We currently have 170 people living with us this way.
During their time with us our young people engage in education, training or employment. We provide them with a support plan and life skills that will let them live independently once they leave us.
Our service really does make a difference to the lives of so many young people in a safe and comfortable environment. But don’t just take our word for it.
When I first arrived at the project I was shocked and amazed at how homely it was.
With support from the staff team and my project worker, I have turned my life around and gained the skills to enable me to live independently successfully.
For more information visit housing services for younger people to download the brochure or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
#6 Supported Housing Services
Supported Housing Services offer support for people with mental health problems at home and/or in the community in Hertfordshire, through our Floating Support service. This is so called as the service is not fixed and can ‘float’ in and out to offer support when needed.
The support from your Floating Support worker can last for up to two years. Their main focus is to help people manage their tenancy by achieving goals set out in line with national outcomes: ‘Managing my Money’, ‘Going to Work or College’, ‘Managing my Home’, ‘Managing my Health & Lifestyle’, ‘Using my Spare Time’, Staying Safe and Secure’ and ‘Helping me to achieve Life Choices’. They generally visit their clients once a week for an hour.
#5 Creating more property owners
In 2004 we started Lea Valley Homes. The purpose was to help key workers get on the property ladder in their local area. At the time the property market was booming having enjoyed five years of unstoppable price rises. This meant a three bedroom terraced family home in Bedford priced at £117,500 (now it would cost you over £200,000) and with stamp duty set at 1% on homes over £60,000 was out of reach for many of the staff of the local hospital.
Today Lea Valley Homes is helping many different kinds of people get on to the property ladder through shared ownership.
Read John Rizzo-Naudi and Tegan Hill’s story on the Lea Valley Homes website.
#4 Involving our communities
Our Community Involvement team is awesome. There we’ve said it.
This team of five makes a real difference to individuals and communities every day. For example, let's look at the work they do with our young people.
Traditionally youth groups tend to be less empowered to influence or scrutinise than adult groups making them largely meaningless. At Aldwyck we really want our young people, the people receiving our services, to be able to affect and improve the service we provide for them therefore we encourage them to scrutinise and feedback to us openly.
Participants of our Youth Council are rewarded the same day. After the meeting, which is designed to generate same day outcomes because our customer base is fluid, they are taken to do an activity which they are likely to have not had the opportunity to do before such as visiting Go Ape! or going white water rafting. After the next meeting on February 12 they are going to Laser Tag.
Through our youth clubs we have developed an excellent Youth Leaders programme. We found self confidence is a barrier to involvement so we provide training and activities designed to build confidence and enable them to become Youth Leaders running sessions for the younger members.
One 17 year old who went through this programme faced difficulties at home and bullying said, “The Youth Group started to become my way of getting away from things at home. The more I went the more I started to talk to the Youth Leaders and form trust in the team. I have gained confidence in myself. When I was asked to be a volunteer it made me feel more confident and I can do things that I thought could never happen. I now go to college which I never thought I would.”
Another, Ria, wrote that being bullied and her shyness meant she socialised with younger people but her confidence “boomed” when she was approached to be a volunteer at the youth club. “I wouldn’t be the person I am today if it wasn’t for Hafi and the youth club. I have learnt an awful lot about myself and my abilities. I have used my experience to lead a session about bullying." Ria went on to win 'Young Volunteer of the Year' with Central Bedfordshire Council and one week later won 'Student of the Year' at her college.
But the programme also helps the community. One of your young volunteers, Sasha wrote, “The youth club through volunteering has helped the community massively as it has got rid of antisocial behaviour by getting everyone to socialise with each other. We get the young people involved so they know that if you take care of your community your community will take care of you.”
In 2016/17 our young people:
- Contributed 2,072.5 hours in their communities
- Organised community events attended by over 3,000 people
- Completed the AQA Healthy Lifestyle Accreditation
- Became confident enough to request and secure funding of £2,500 from Luton Borough Council to improve their local community.
Fantastic achievements by an inspiring team.
No matter what your age, if you would like to get involved please contact our Community Involvement team.
#3 Need Help to Buy? Then get in touch!
As we all know, getting on the property ladder can be really tough these days. House prices are still high despite recent reports that the market is stagnating.
We recently helped a young couple buy their first home together at The Gables in Wavendon. They used the Government's Help to Buy scheme to secure their dream property together.
As a Help to Buy agent, in 2016/17 we helped almost 3,000 people on to the property ladder, that is 3,000 people out of rented property and in to their own home. With Help to Buy the Government lends you up to 20% of the cost of your new build home, meaning you can secure your new home for just 5% deposit. So, do you need help buying your new home? Don't wait - get in touch today.
#2 More mysterious names explained
Last week we mentioned how we came to be called Aldwyck which got us thinking. We may not often give much thought to property or street names but the origins can be quite interesting and historic. Here are how some of our current and past properties got their names:
- Russet Drive, Bramley Way and Grenadier Close – built on the site of the orchards at Hill End Hospital so the roads are named after apple varieties
- The Minims and Harmony Way, Hatfield– built on the site of a music school, so were given musical names
- Arthur Gibbens Court, Stevenage – named after one of the founders of Aldwyck whose wife Muriel was also one of Board members until the late 1990s
- Celia Johnson Court, Borehamwood – named after the famous film actress for her role in ‘Brief Encounter’ because the scheme was built on part of the site of the former Elstree Studios
- Canterbury House, Bedford – Situated in Chaucer Way this scheme is named after the author’s ‘The Canterbury Tales’
- Osborne Court, Bedford – named after Queen Victoria’s house on the Isle of Wight, the flats got their name because they are adjacent to Victoria Road
- Hillier Court, Bedford – named after John Hillier, a former Chairman of Aldwyck
- Plaiters Way, Houghton Regis – named after the craft of plaiting which was widely used in the hat industry in nearby Luton
- Sugden Court, Dunstable – named after former director of Aldwyck Geoffrey Sugden
Do you live in an unusual sounding place and know its origins? Let us know, we'd love to hear from you @aldwyckofficial
#1 Do you know how Aldwyck got its name?
Not many people do but its origins aren't that mysterious! In 1968 our first 26 flats were built in Harpenden. The builder lived at the grand sounding Aldwyckbury Manor and so we took a shortened version of that to name the organisation that would look after our first homes.
Over the years as we have grown we have changed the look of the brand and adapted parts of the name to reflect the times and company structure changes e.g. moving from Aldwyck Housing Association to Aldwyck Housing Group. Despite these changes we have always been Aldwyck at our heart and have the same aim of providing good quality affordable housing at our core today just as our founders did 50 years ago.