Innovative communications strategies for a deprived community
Tai Calon Community Housing was formed in July 2010 after council tenants voted in favour of their homes and around 230 members of staff being transferred to the new ‘not for profit’ organisation. Tai Calon has more than 6,100 houses, flats and bungalows and is the largest social landlord in Blaenau Gwent, an area of considerable economic deprivation in South East Wales. It is spending £111 million by 2015 bringing all its properties up to Welsh Housing Quality Standard. Jen Barfoot, CEO explains: “We want to improve lives, homes, experience and communities. To do this, we need to tell tenants and the wider population about our plans and to encourage them to get involved in what we are doing. How we communicate those messages will be a crucial strand of achieving our vision.”
So in May 2012 a two day trip to the beautiful valleys was organised – these turned out be intensive (but thoroughly engaging days) working closely with an expert review panel and focus groups to evaluate a mountain of materials. The team continued late into the evening analysing and discussing their findings. The assessment process that followed married up quantitative scoring data with qualitative sound bites and was used to inform the final recommendations.
“The review gave us the evidence to change focus. We are moving away from more traditional and expensive forms of communication. We are using social media more and even have our own weekly radio programme on our local community station. We now know that ‘one size will no longer fit all’. We are adapting and changing our approach all the time to make sure we are talking to the right people and they are listening to what we have to say. We have also identified gaps in what we do and are looking at other initiatives like a ‘pop-up shop’ which will make regular visits to our communities. This has been a great success because we listened to the views and brilliant ideas of tenants and staff.”