£56,195 was invested into 
community projects

£42,000 distributed to residents through our dedicated welfare fund

752 welfare calls made 
to support residents

Our customers have always been at the heart of everything we do, which is why our community engagement work is so important to us. In light of the pandemic, 2020/21 was incredibly tough for many of our residents, so we focused our efforts on providing additional support to our communities.  

Supporting our communities through the pandemic

We have been committed to supporting our communities ever since we were formed 14 years ago. During testing times like these, we are dedicated to that commitment more than ever. 

Working in line with the government’s guidance, we were able to provide essential support by partnering with groups and charities to provide funding, food parcels and care packages to those affected by coronavirus – and continuing our support of groups that help to build vibrant and connected communities.

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, we set up the Welfare Fund – a dedicated fund created to support our customers who were affected financially by Covid-19, helping them to pay for essential expenses such as their rent, bills or food. In 2020/21, 168 customers were supported through the Welfare Fund, totalling £42,000. 

We also reshaped our Community Development Fund to provide support to small local charities and community organisations in the voluntary sector that were providing assistance to the local community. In total, £56,195 was invested into Community Projects from our Community Chest and Community Development Funds. 

To support our more vulnerable customers, we made 752 welfare calls to residents to check in, provide reassurance and offer assistance, referring approximately 15% of those we called to support services. We also worked with the Watford Covid-19 Food Intervention Group, Goods4Good, Small Acts of Kindness and GoKula to deliver essential supplies to customers in need.

We were actively involved in the Watford Covid-19 Food Intervention Group, which provided over 200,000 fresh meals and food parcels to families

Hubs at the heart of our communities

Usually, our hubs host an enormous range of activities, from sign language classes and counselling sessions to coffee mornings and yoga classes. However, coronavirus meant that these groups could not continue during the lockdowns, in line with government guidelines. Instead, we were able to utilise our hubs to support a range of organisations who were supporting our communities during the pandemic. 

During the first lockdown, Random Café used our Leavesden Green hub to provide essential food bank items and food boxes to vulnerable people. We have since been able to offer Random Café a permanent home in the Meriden Gardens, which is currently under construction. 

We also offered our small hall at the Leavesden Green hub to the Covid-19 Support Group during the first lockdown – free of charge. They used the space to store their donations, which had to be quarantined for three days. During the second lockdown the government guidelines meant that the Jack in the Box nursery could stay open in our Leavesden Green hub and The Living Room, who run addiction therapy and substance abuse therapy in our Harebreaks Hub, could also continue to offer support.

Throughout the year we continued to work with all the groups who hire out our venues, ensuring them a safe return. We took great care in providing them with a secure and Covid-safe location with all the necessary restrictions in place. Many groups found the past year financially very difficult, so we didn’t make any additional charges when groups moved from our small halls into larger ones to allow for social distancing. 

130 ‘warm in winter’ bags from Small Acts of Kindness delivered to some of our older residents by our 
Repairs and Independent Living teams

Our Communities team attended two of our hostels weekly, providing fresh hot meals and a range of supplies from GoKula for children and families – we distributed around 2,400 meals and food parcels in total

49 customers supported with a range of items through Donation Station supplied by Goods4Good

£3,500 raised by Sir Captain Tom Moore was 
awarded to Watford Community Housing for 
project to combat hoarding

Launching our 2020-2025 community plans

One of the key priorities in our Customer Promise – which is at the heart of our 2020-2025 Business Plan  – is an investment of £1 million into community projects over the next five years. This investment will be used to enhance the lives of our residents and build stronger communities. 

As part of this, we have committed to three years of funding for four key projects, which reflect our community engagement goals.

  • As part of our focus on wellbeing, we’re supporting Watford FC Community Sport & Education Trust’s Premier League Kicks youth club project. It promotes safer and more inclusive communities by helping young people aged 8-18 years old to engage with football, sport and development activities.
  • To help combat social isolation, we’re providing funding to Home Start Watford & Three Rivers for their Time to Talk project. 
  • To promote safe neighbourhoods, we’re supporting the Aspire Project, which is run by Transitions UK and works across Hertfordshire and North London to provide support for young people who have offended, or are at risk of offending or criminal exploitation.
  • As part of our commitment to tenancy sustainment, we will continue to use our Welfare Fund to support Watford Community Housing tenants who have financial difficulties.

We ran a Covid-safe festive scavenger hunt across our neighbourhoods at Christmas and held an Easter bonnet/hat competition, supplying 100 hats and art kits to residents. We had 35 entries and chose 3 winners who received prizes!