Tai Tarian work recognised with a string of award nominations

Tue 24 Aug 2021

Donna Davies

Tai Tarian’s commitment to supporting its customers, communities and staff during the past 18 months has been recognised by the Chartered Institute of Housing, with four nominations at its annual Welsh Housing Awards.

The Neath Port Talbot-based social housing provider has been recognised in the Supporting Communities, Working in Partnership, Best Housing Story and, Excellence in Health and Well-being categories as a result of the work it has done to support people during a challenging 18 months.

The awards recognise and celebrate the creativity, passion and innovation amongst housing organisations in Wales.  This year’s awards will particularly focus on how the sector overcame the unique challenges posed by the pandemic to continue to deliver vital services.

Tai Tarian’s immediate response to the pandemic has seen it shortlisted in the Supporting Communities category for its Safe and Well project.  The project saw staff from all departments quickly mobilise as soon as the first lockdown started. They attempted to make contact with all 9000 tenants, ensuring they were okay and had everything they needed.  Assistance was also offered to tenants who were shielding and did not have any support from family, friends or neighbours.

The project carried out  remotely, with staff making wellbeing calls from home. Between them, they managed to contact over 98% of tenants and were able to arrange help, with 786 requests for food parcels, and 381 requests for prescriptions to be collected.

As well as this great team effort being shortlisted, there is also recognition for individual staff, with Tai Tarian’s Housing Officer, Donna Davies nominated in the Best Housing Story category.

Donna’s tenant-focussed approach to her work has seen her drive forward a project to improve the safety and security of elderly residents living in a block of flats in the centre of Neath.

Then, as part of the safe and well team, Donna’s existing relationship with the residents of the block was crucial in enabling her to build trust and offer her help to those who were shielding or had no family support. She even arranged transport for some of the residents to go and get their Covid-19 vaccine when they had no other way of travelling to the vaccination centre.

Away from the pandemic, Tai Tarian has also been nominated in the Working Together category for its response to the Skewen floods.

Tai Tarian worked with the local authority, the Coal Board, emergency services, other housing associations and local communities to support the residents of the100 homes that were affected when an old mine shaft collapsed and caused major flooding.

The initial response was to arrange emergency accommodation for those people who couldn’t return to their homes.  They then worked with their existing contractors to survey and inspect the damaged properties before carrying out repairs. 

Tai Tarian staff also got involved, making personal donations to help with the relief effort and purchase food parcels and basic household essentials for those affected.

As well as helping tenants and communities, Tai Tarian has also been recognised for supporting its staff through the last 18 months, with a nomination in the Excellence in Health and Wellbeing category. 

Their Well@Work programme encompassed a range of measures to support staff during the pandemic. Staff were regularly surveyed on their mental and physical health with appropriate support put in place for those who needed extra help. 

Staff working from home were given the flexibility to fit their work in around home schooling, caring responsibilities and other domestic commitments. 

Wellbeing ‘buddies’ were introduced amongst staff to allow them to check-in and look out for each other.  Staff were also encouraged to take time out of their working day to go for a walk, run or any other activity that would help with their wellbeing.

In addition, training was rolled out to all staff on how to manage their mental health and help others. Several staff received further training to enable them to become mental health first aiders.

Speaking after the shortlist was announced, Tai Tarian’s Chief Executive, Linda Whittaker said:
“To be nominated in four different categories at the Welsh Housing Awards is a phenomenal achievement.

“Being at the heart of our communities is really important to us, and this has been especially true during the pandemic.  We were really pleased that we were able to help those who were struggling and needed a little extra help during these tough times.

“Our staff too have worked incredibly hard throughout the most testing of years, often from home, whilst juggling home schooling and coping with the challenges of the pandemic themselves.  The fact they have still managed to do all this exceptional work and more is a real testament to their resilience and commitment to helping others.”

The Welsh Housing Awards take place on-line on Thursday 30th September.