Previously I was an Area Housing Manager. Housing staff managed estates, allocations, income, rent assessments, repairs, and dealt with antisocial behaviour; it encompassed a wide variety of tasks. This new role deals specifically with antisocial behaviour and domestic abuse. The team will be looking at prevention and intervention around antisocial behaviour, supporting our tenants within the community and enforcement where needed. The team has a wealth of knowledge having worked in homeless services, addiction services and the justice system.
A large part of our work will be collaborating with external stakeholders, which we’ve done in the past. Now we have time to dedicate specifically to developing collaborative practices with external stakeholders, which could be anyone from Local Authorities to the Gardaí, and then provide specialised supports depending on the needs of the individual and community.
One of the new things we’ll be looking at are diversionary activities. These are activities that can reduce ASB by providing an alternative activity. This typically works with groups of young people who may be involved in ASB.
We’re working on developing an index of support services so we can support tenants and empower them within the community. Minor issues can potentially become major ones. Early intervention is very important to stop possible things escalating.
We currently have four team members, Lar Roddy, Sandra O’Toole, Dara Sheehy and Kevin Cannon and are recruiting for a fifth. As far as I know we are the first Safer Neighbourhood team of any Approved Housing Body (AHB) in Ireland. We’ve developed dedicated policies and procedures and are looking forward to embedding them. It’s exciting as it’s such a new service, although there’s work involved in setting it up.
Previously if there was an issue with ASB or domestic abuse we would have linked in with the person and established what supports were needed on an ad hoc basis. Now we will have specific action plans and a case management system to keep track of cases, learning, trends and monitor intervention as well as tracking to meet KPIs.
I’m excited to the team and establish the action plans and interventions. It’s always great to see an estate turned around when there had been challenges and difficulties. It’s magical to see that, and every estate has the potential. The biggest asset we have are the tenants in our community. We’re looking forward to getting out into the communities and meeting the tenants and working alongside our Member Engagement team, Neighbourhood Team, Asset and Repair as well as external stakeholders. It’s ultimately about us empowering tenants and communities. Everyone deserves to live without fear. People who are victims of antisocial behaviour and domestic abuse are probably more reluctant to report issues and can often be more vulnerable. These could be people who are elderly or have mental health or addiction problems. The Safer Neighbourhood team will be engaging with support services and sharing information and knowledge with tenants and communities.
We have a dream team, not only in terms of prior experience, but the fact they are empathetic, they genuinely want to make a difference and have passion too. They’re great at problem solving, coming up with ideas, and challenging thinking, it’s a fantastic dynamic. There are going to be challenging situations at times but with the team we have, the wealth of knowledge, and the great personalities, it makes such a difference.