How we create social value across our local communities
As a housing association based primarily in Preston, we manage over 6,800 homes and employ around 275 people. The Community Gateway Model is designed to ensure that customers and communities are at the very heart of the organisation, demonstrating a strong commitment to people and place. Explicit in its commitment to community wealth building and one of the early anchor partners to collaborate with Preston City Council as the Preston Model developed, Community Gateway contributed to the scaling-up of the anchor approach in the area which amplified the benefits of this approach in the community.
As the first Community Gateway Model in the country we have a drive and passion to provide wider benefits to our local communities. We demonstrate our social value impact with every project we undertake, here are some of the activities CGA undertake to create social value.
Employment and Training
Preston Vocational Centre
Our Charitable Subsidiary, Preston Vocational Centre (PVC) provides hands-on opportunities in different areas of construction. Its learners, who may be struggling in mainstream education, predominantly come from partner schools across Preston, but PVC also welcomes community groups and individuals for taster days. Over the 11 years, the Centre has seen nearly 7000 learners walk through its doors.
PVC colleagues also work closely with different teams here at Community Gateway to help people gain practical skills and confidence to help them secure a job.
Jack, 17, studied for a BTEC Level 1 in Construction. He told us about his experience at PVC.
“I’ve really enjoyed my course, from plastering to bricklaying and decorating, no two days are ever the same. The staff are another big reason why I’ve enjoyed it. They treat everyone as equals and are always respectful. This has created a great environment for everyone to learn in."
If you would like to learn more about the great work being done at PVC, visit their website at www.prestonvocationalcentre.co.uk
More Positive Together
We are proud to be a delivery partner for More Positive Together, a Lancashire-wide project which, over its lifetime, aims to help 2,000 people enhance their skills and job prospects.
Our Employability team offers tailored help and guidance to eligible residents, which may include 1-to-1 mentoring, wellbeing support, training courses, employment advice and work experience opportunities.
Sarah told us why she decided to turn to More Positive Together, after being out of work for almost 10 years. Read about her story here
Building Better Opportunities
Community Gateway is a delivery partner in the Invest in Youth and Changing Futures projects in Lancashire. These projects are part of the nationwide Building Better Opportunities programme that brings together funding from the National Lottery Community Fund and the European Social Fund (ESF) to help tackle the poverty and social exclusion faced by the most disadvantaged people in England.
For more information click here
Employment and Training
Our team is on hand to offer one-to-one support to help tenants back into work or training. We can help them secure their next role - from job searching, CV writing to confidence building and interview skills. Tenants can also receive one-to-one telephone and digital support from our Employability team.
For more information, visit the Employability page
There are many ways tenants can have their say and help shape the services they receive. We have a range of involvement opportunities for tenants to choose from, allowing them to get involved with us at a time and place which suits them.
Visit the Ways to Get Involved page for more information.
Our Role as an Anchor Institution
Investing in our local communities and partners is fundamental to Community Gateway and is right at the heart of our social purpose. Our strong social ethos is underpinned by the principals of mutuality, accountability and engagement which we live out daily through our partnership-working and investment in the local economy and environment.
We work in partnership with our partners and all stakeholders across the region to build thriving, sustainable communities. We are proud of our role as the largest landlord and an important anchor institution in Preston.
Each year, Community Gateway raises money to support local charities. In November 2019 a team of colleagues braved the cold to participate in The Big Sleep Out at the Preston North End stadium to raise money for the purchase and renovation to provide a safe and secure location for Preston’s homeless.
Read more about it here
By having a highly-skilled, motivated and happy workforce we are able to deliver better services to our customers. Our colleagues love what they do, with an amazing 91% of them reporting they are satisfied with CGA as their employer.
We invest in our colleagues’ learning and development to ensure they have the right skills and knowledge to deliver the very best services to our customers. We aim to recruit the best staff from a range of different backgrounds and cultures to ensure the organisation is reflective of the communities we serve.
We are also very proud of our role as an Accredited Living Wage Employer. As part of our commitment to paying people a fair and reasonable wage, we are playing a key role in an initiative led by Preston City Council to encourage more local businesses to raise their own rates of pay to at least £9.30 per hour. As a community-based housing association with over 90% of our colleagues living in the Preston area, it is really important to us to pay the Living Wage.
At Community Gateway, every colleague is committed to help engage and empower local communities. Colleagues are given opportunities and encouraged to support charitable and community activities during the working week and in their own time.
For more information visit the Employment section
We are committed to delivering value for money and procurement plays a key role in supporting this commitment.
In 2013 we brought our repairs service in house and have since built on this approach by in-sourcing related services so that the vast majority of maintenance and investment is undertaken directly. Through the procurement process,we also increased the local nature of our supply chain. This has benefitted Preston’s local economy by providing opportunities for residents to secure jobs within the service and for local businesses to improve the reliability and long-term sustainability of our customer base.
A great example is our Purchase and Repair project, which sought to develop new and good quality affordable homes and repair existing stock. The impact of this has been clear from the outset. From an initial investment of £1.8m, we have brought over £3.7m of social value for Preston – an additional £1.08 of impact for every £1 spent. In addition, the project has enabled half a million pounds of central government funding to be levered into Preston, with 20 homes being refurbished.
By effectively managing our relationships with suppliers, we are able to increase our ability to create more places for people to call home, support them to live well and build lasting homes and communities.
Community Support and Advice
Gateway in The Community
Investing in our local communities is fundamental to Community Gateway and is right at the heart of our social purpose. As part of our Gateway in the Community programme, we deliver a wide range of services across the city and beyond to support local residents and enable neighbourhoods to flourish.
For more information visit the Gateway in The Community page.
Benefits advice and white goods
Last year, our Tenancy Support team assisted Community Gateway households to access additional welfare benefits and grants totalling a staggering £4.2million, with over 1250 claims submitted.
Our specialist officers provide advice on any additional support that may be available, whether this is around setting up a payment plan, seeing if tenants are entitled to welfare benefits or helping them obtain essential household items and white goods like fridges or washing machines.
We are working closely with customers to continue to offer comprehensive financial support to those who need additional help during this crisis period.
We spoke to some of our customers to hear about how CGA supported them over the years. Read the case studies here
At Community Gateway we put on food hubs across Preston, working in conjunction with FareShare and other partners to help those who need a little extra support.
In 2019 six events took place and from the 186 households who attended we helped just short of 500 people.
During the Coronavirus pandemic we ran our own food hub delivering essentials to the most vulnerable, those who are self-isolating and requests for help from University students and social services. During this time we packed and delivered over 8,000 food parcels.
In July, we launched a new seven-week project called the Purple Pantry, and due to its success, we have decided to extend it until the New Year.
Visit the Purple Pantry page for more information.