[Book promotion] Fire Detection and Fire Alarm Systems

In the aftermath of the Grenfell Tower tragedy and the subsequent Hackitt Report, it is clear that the whole construction industry is undergoing a wholesale review of its practices. As part of this review, competence has rightly become a clear factor that must be suitably considered.

Tim Benstead has written a practical guide to Grade D Fire Alarm Systems to help electrical contractors and others involved in fire safety to understand their roles and responsibilities clearly.

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Data Quality is not optional, but it shouldn’t be hard work either

Matt Jollands has worked in and around social housing for the best part of a decade, and through discussion with peers, observations of the industry and current discussions sector wide he believes that there is an issue with data in UK social housing.

Housing Associations love to talk about being ‘data driven’, but if we’re honest, in most circumstances the data that drives decisions, allows performance management and benchmarking, and ultimately could help to improve the service that tenants receive is patchy at best, and unusable at worst.

In this article Matt explores the sector’s challenges with data, and urges it to really, really, acknowledge its importance and potential.

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Orbit pledges commitment to social suppliers with the launch of a new procurement platform

A new, innovative open access procurement platform has been launched by Orbit and Supply Change – a social procurement provider – to connect suppliers and buyers to deliver commercial value and social impact.

The new Social Supplier Dynamic Purchasing System (DPS) allows buyers to source goods and services from suppliers who can deliver a quality service and a positive impact, such as social enterprises, charities and sheltered workshops.

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Language Matters – The use of ‘vulnerable’ and other depowering phrases in housing

Society, including the housing sector, has a tendency to use words like ‘vulnerable’ as an umbrella term, and to use phrases like ‘giving a voice’ when talking about pepole who for some reason or another have been placed in a position of less power, by others, potentially them.

This article explores what the use of these phrases implies and which power imbalances it creates and upholds. It argues that the sector should stop using language like this and works towards an inclusive language that doesn’t contribute to maintaining power imbalances and stigmatising perceptions.

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Assumption is the mother of all f*ck-ups – Key Digital Exclusion lessons from a prime-time hospital drama

More and more prime-time television series address everyday issues. From covid to Black Lives Matters, the last year has seen a surge in TV writers sharing their thoughts about the world and ‘the system’ through their series. New Amsterdam is one such series. A modern hospital drama. It has (and still is) addressing Covid and BLM in very (much needed) painful ways, and combined it in its latest episode with a focus on (effects of) digital exclusion. Dr Gaby Wolferink gives you the key lessons here.

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Opinion: Dampen your Mould – The dire state of housing in the UK

The dire state of housing and the poor conditions in which many private rented sector, council and social housing tenants are living has been brought to the forefront yet again in recent weeks.

Good, because this needs to be addressed. SHM’s Dr Gaby Wolferink writes about her views and experiences and thinks about how sensor technology can and should be used to build better housing, fit for the 21st century, for everyone, not just those who can afford it.

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Why the 28-day move-on period for refugees needs to be extended

When a destitute asylum seeker arrives in the UK they are offered ‘Asylum accommodation’.

This accommodation could be anywhere within the UK and the asylum seeker does not get a choice of where they are located.

Katy Wood explores how this process works out in practice, and argues the standard 28-day move-on period should be extended.

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Homelessness and Covid-19. Utilising empty homes.

Local authorities have a duty under the Housing Act (Wales) 2014 to prevent homelessness and provide support for people who are homeless or threatened with homelessness.

In 2015, homelessness legislation introduced new duties and powers for local authorities to prevent homelessness for anyone at risk within 56 days.

Amy McMurray explores the possibility of utilising empty home to alleviate homelessness challenges.

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Actionable Insights into Income and Health Inequalities

We know that difficult financial situations and poor health are interrelated. However, it is not clear how the circumstances of people’s lives affect the link between finances and health. During six months, we followed the everyday lives of 21 individuals living on low incomes and managing multiple long-term conditions.

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Rapid responsive action to Covid and the need for a forward looking and long-term response.

The COVID-19 global pandemic has prompted rapid responsive action from both the UK government and the devolved nations across the United Kingdom. The national lockdown and the subsequent regional lockdowns that have occurred since March 2020 have placed restrictions and conditions on all citizens that has required people to stay home, however, this has only highlighted the urgent need for people to live in safe and suitable accommodation, write Emma Parcell

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Should we own stuff?

A lot of people own a lot of things, from socks to mugs, to phones to sofas. But, is owning lots of stuff something that is still fit for the 21st century and beyond?

Caroline Duvier asks this while thinking about reusing stuff, furniture poverty, offering the option of a furnished tenancy in social housing, and much more in this article!

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2021: A Home Odyssey

In this article Dr Gaby Wolferink looks back to 2020 and what she feels should be the key lessons to be brought into 2021 and beyond.

It ended up a story of privilege and a call to action for tech providers, architects and social housing providers to start building homes fit to harbour someone in a pandemic, in safety, instead of being yet another concern.

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Getting comfortable with discomfort. An essential first step in poverty work

Hannah Absalom, a former practitioner of 18 years and now PhD student at the University of Birmingham and co-founder of SHM writes about how the housing sector can best approach furthering their understanding of poverty and their role in recognising, alleviating and preventing it.

In this article Hannah focusus on the first step, which is for people to get comfortable with feeling uncomfortable about poverty.

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Tough decisions: juggling strategic choices

Ellen Damlica is an Associate at Penningtons Manches Cooper and specialises in social housing governmance.

This article is intended to facilitate discussion around key decisions that need to be made after 2020 and going into 2021 at Board and executive level, and to assist in identifying which matters are the ’glass balls’ and which are the ’plastic balls’.

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Duo-living: A different approach to the housing crisis from the Netherlands

Stichting Statiegeld op Jeugd is a Dutch initiative that is seeking to combat the housing crisis in the Netherlands. They do so by proposing a housing ‘format’ where existing homes, mostly occupied by ’empty nesters’ are split up into two homes, allowing the older generation to stay in their own homes AND create more social housing out of existing properties!

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Innovation isn’t Rocket Science

We always think of innovation as being ‘digital’, ‘technology’, ‘shiny’ and combining this into ‘groundbreaking’ stuff, like rocket science…

But, just because rocket science is innovation, innovation isn’t rocket science. Too often we see ‘digital’ and ‘technology’ as the goal, rather than improving people’s lives.

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The ClwydAlyn way – Trust, Covid and Service Reform

ClwydAlyn is a housing association in Wales whose mission is all about addressing poverty. This means that they focus time and resources on supporting tenants that might be struggling with income poverty, fuel poverty or food poverty.

With the impact of Covid19 now unfolding, this mission has become even more vital.

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Social Housing White Paper – An environmental angle by Suss Housing

Suss Housing have created ‘SHIFT’; a sustainability standard for the housing sector.

It is an independent assessment and accreditation scheme that demonstrates organisations are delivering against challenging environmental targets. They have kindly shared their view on the Social Housing White Paper from an environmental angle.

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Northern Ireland’s housing authority will be reclassified as a mutual – but will it also be privatised?

The Minister for Communities at Stormont recently delivered a major statement on housing policy which was then lauded from almost all sides.

In this article, University of Birmingham Lecturer and researcher Stewart Smyth takes a deeper look at what the Minister said and argues that there is an intention to privatise the Northern Ireland Housing Executive.

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Community-Led Approaches to Empty Homes in Wales

This article comes from final-year BSc Housing Students at Cardiff Metropolitan University, Amy McMurray, Anthony Morgans, and Emma Parcell.

On behalf of Tyfu Tai Cymru, a 5-year housing policy project, they researched the role of community-led solutions in addressing empty homes.

This article shares their most important findings.

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