Health & Happiness
New research released by Wales Co-operative Centre, with support from the Nationwide Foundation, has found that residents’ experience improved mental wellbeing and happiness as well as skills development from living in co-operative and community-led housing (CCLH) schemes.
Over 50 residents from 22 community led-housing schemes across Wales and England were interviewed, as well as a further 14 staff from nine of the CCLH providers. As outlined in reports, the main benefits that residents highlighted were:
Residents felt less isolated, being surrounded by a supportive network
Improved mental wellbeing and happiness
A better quality of life with the potential for skills development and increased levels of confidence, as well as a better financial situation
Wider benefits to the community including a reduction in antisocial behaviour and greater community collaboration
Pride & Empowerment
One CCLH resident summarised the benefits they have seen, stating that there is a “sense of pride and empowered individuals” in living within a community. Another resident said: “I have found a very supportive community of fellow housemates, receiving support during a period of illness and subsequently helping new members to find their feet in the household.”
Communities Creating Homes
Wales Co-operative Centre is said to have been supporting the growth of community-led housing since 2012 and is delivering the Communities Creating Homes programme to further stimulate demand for CCLH throughout Wales. With three years funding from the Nationwide Foundation and two years from the Welsh government, the Wales Co-operative Centre has designed a programme that will work with communities and organisations to deliver more affordable housing for people in need.
Improved Employment Opportunities
On the research, Derek Walker, CEO of the Wales Co-operative Centre, said: “We were really pleased with the research findings and the range of softer benefits that residents have seen. With one participant quoting improved employment opportunities as the biggest change they’ve seen. As well as the expected financial benefits, there is a much wider impact on mental wellbeing and skills development which is great to see.”
Going from Strength to Strength
Gary Hartin, the Nationwide Foundation’s Programme Manager, said: “We’re incredibly pleased to have funded this much-needed piece of work. We’ve been enabling co-operative and community-led housing since 2013 and this type of housing is going from strength to strength in Wales. It’s very useful to now have evidence of the wider benefits of living in a scheme, including health and wellbeing.
Convince Decision Makers of Value
“We certainly hope that this will persuade other communities to consider taking forward a scheme in their area, whether in Wales or the rest of the United Kingdom, as well as convincing decision makers of the wider benefits and value of co-operative and community-led housing.”
Part of the Solution
On reports, Welsh Minister for Housing and Local Government Julie James AM said the government remains “very committed” to community-led housing in Wales.
“I have been overwhelmed in hearing the benefits residents gain from living in community-led housing.
“The difference tenants feel in terms of improved skills, increased confidence and improved mental well-being to name but a few – demonstrates why community-led housing can, and should be part of the solution to the housing crisis we face here in Wales,” she said.
“Building more affordable housing and providing people with safe, warm, and secure homes is a key priority for this Welsh government.
“I’m looking forward to watching community-led housing grow and flourish – and contribute towards our commitment to build 20,000 affordable homes during this Assembly term.”
DfMA in Focus
Whatever system is used to build Community Homes, almost certainly they will increasingly be produced under MMC and maybe Off-Site technologies. Taking these to the next level will be the shift to DfMA - Design for Manufacture & Assembly; a welcome change in the overall approach to project management and development. This engages the whole team responsible for delivery on time and within budget. It requires a systematic, solution driven approach which brings discipline to the process, sharing information and communications.
Partnering for Progress
All of this entails a shift in thinking to that already practiced by established ‘Off-Site’ MMC manufacturers. It can be quickly and easily incorporated into procedures and processes of building and development. Better still, you can make partnering arrangements with such manufacturers to gain all round benefits.
Greater Speed, Accuracy, Quality and Lower Costs
Greater collaborative ‘partnering’ between architects, builders and manufacturers will deliver these. The greater speed, accuracy and quality that can result from manufacturing components in a dry, controlled factory environment, together with the ability tom incorporate (yet to be invented) ‘Smart Ware’ gives home builders perhaps the only way of achieving this, together with improved on-site build quality AND controlling costs.
While resistance to the change to DfMA has been the norm, the wish of most UK Builders to deliver excellent customer service and top notch homes is now driving an increasing number to choose Off-Site for their developments. Also, as ‘OffSite Hub” note, architects and designers are moving toward DfMA, something we have been encouraging for over 20 years. The emergence of LA Developers will only speed up this process.
Easy Timber Frame
To assist them in doing so our “Easy Timber Frame “ now offers standard size modular timber frame elements for them to use as a design base, cutting down on technical design and engineering to produce win-win results. This virtually provides any housebuilder or architect with their own bespoke design factory facility.
Better all-round Savings
Our specialist services and CUSTOM homes division deliver best value and protect the interests of land owners, house-builder developers, professionals and private individuals seeking to build their dream home. Our off-site construction systems also reduce the amount of material that gets wasted on site, helping to avoid land fill, hazardous waste separation and handling, They also deliver better value for you and your customers.