Yorkshire Housing’s Home Improvement Agency (HIA) in Sheffield is at the forefront of home adaptations that help customers maintain their independence.
The housing association allocates £460,000 a year to provide for tenants in need of minor and major adaptations to their homes – ranging from items such as grab rails to level access showers.
The internal adaptations team coordinates the works, from the referral coming in, to the works being carried out and sign off in many cases.
For minor adaptations, handypersons from the Sheffield-based South HIA and its North area counterpart carry out the works.
For major adaptations, the internal adaptations technical officer will visit, draw up the plans and produce a schedule of works for contractors to complete.
It could be for an elderly customer, someone who is disabled or if someone needs extra support due to ill health.
This is just one area in which Yorkshire Housing meets its social responsibilities as a landlord – and the HIA in Sheffield manage the service.
They also support major adaptations in the Swarcliffe Estate in Leeds as part of Yorkshire Housing’s role in managing the area.
South HIA and Internal Adaptations manager Layla Walton (pictured) said: “We’re committed to helping people live independently and comfortably in their own homes and in a way that keeps their dignity.”
The internal adaptations team also have close-knit relationships with local authorities and occupational therapists across Yorkshire, working with them to deliver disabled facilities grants for major adaptations in tenants’ properties.
There is also a two-pronged private handytec service that brings money into the business for vulnerable people who are not Yorkshire Housing tenants.
This covers Barnsley, Sheffield and Rotherham and is for anybody who may not qualify for core council-funded services.
“It’s for anybody who is classed as vulnerable and isn’t a tenant,” Layla said. “Grant funding can come from charities or even other businesses that have a fund for community projects.”
Layla and her team are constantly searching for grants to add extra added value to the core services.
An example of this is the £5,000 won recently from the South Yorkshire Police and Crime Commissioner.
There was also a £25,000 grant to deliver smart meter information to the over 65s and the £5,000 electrical safety bid they were recently awarded.
The HIA’s overall mission is to help ensure the most marginalised people in society can remain independent, secure and have a safe place fit to call home.
And to make sure people do not miss out on other available Yorkshire Housing services, the Sheffield HIA and the separate Help at Hand service, which is run by the Independent Living Service (ILS), cross-promote each other.
Layla added: “It’s great to work with the ILS on their Help at Hand Service.
“I believe both Help at Hand and the home improvement agencies work within the same ethos, allowing us to offer a wider variety of services to the people who need it most.”