Local Council Housing Officers Recognised Nationally As ‘Community Heroes’

Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils’ housing officers are in the running for a prestigious national award, for their work in keeping vulnerable residents off the streets during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Housing Solutions team has been shortlisted for a national Community Heroes of the Year award by local government magazine the Municipal Journal (MJ).

The award recognises the very best of public service frontline officers who have gone above and beyond their duties during the pandemic to support their communities. The team has been acclaimed for its work supporting residents who have found themselves at risk of homelessness or rough sleeping during the crisis.

This included the team’s incredible response to the Government’s ‘Everyone In’ initiative, transforming a delict property in Sudbury in just five working days to provide urgent accommodation to those at risk.

The council’s teams joined local firms in working round the clock to carry out major repairs and refurbishment at The Lees, installing essential appliances and furniture, to allow the first seven households to move into the new units within the week.

Contractors Whybrow Property Solutions even removed the kitchen units from their own premises to install at the property, while other firms agreed to make all-important deliveries of furniture before closing their doors for lockdown.

Cllr Jan Osborne Babergh District Council cabinet member for Housing, said: “The housing teams did an amazing job bringing this project together. It is a perfect demonstration of how our officers, across all services, and partners have pulled together during a totally unprecedented and challenging time to help our residents and communities when they need us most.”

Cllr Lavinia Hadingham, Mid Suffolk District Council cabinet member for Housing said: “This recognition of the team as Community Heroes by the MJ is well deserved.  We know that our housing officers are dedicated, committed, professional and make a positive difference within our district – but it is extremely rewarding to see this acknowledged at a national level also.”

During the first wave of the pandemic, the team also:

  • Led on a county wide initiative – sourcing over 800 potential hotel rooms to support hospital discharge, key workers needing to self-isolate and housing homeless persons.
  • Set up three temporary accommodation sites – including The Lees, which they managed in just five working days.
  • Successfully prevented and relieved homelessness, despite the pandemic. 
  • Ending 124 cases homelessness, including housing 34 into the private rented sector
  • preventing over 60 cases of individuals or families becoming homeless
  • locating emergency accommodation for 140 households
  • received 53 rough sleeper referrals and continued to carry out rough sleeper outreach 
  • accommodated over 95 households in temporary accommodation
  • provided meals to the homeless in accommodation who were unable to prepare food
  • sourced 150 food parcels for families/ individuals in need
  • handled over 3000 calls
  • rehoused 60 households via Direct Let 
  • helped 20 households into the private rented sector
  • completed 16 urgent Minor Adaptations Grants applications

Gavin Fisk, Babergh and Mid Suffolk district councils Assistant Director of Housing said: “I am understandably proud of our Housing Solutions team. This is recognition of their dedication, as well as the efforts of everyone across Housing and indeed our wider organisation, who have worked so hard to support our residents, tenants, business and communities through the pandemic.

The team is one of nine shortlisted finalists and must now wait until the awards night on Friday 17 September to find out if they have managed to scoop the top spot.  

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