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Wednesday, July 24, 2024

WHA appoints Director of Social Value

Warrington Housing Association is proud to announce the appointment of its first Director of Social Value to lead its continuing commitment to community well-being.

Gerry Kiddle is the former director of WHA’s over-50s centre and property maintenance agency. She will continue to be responsible for these services while leading her team to develop and deliver new social strategies.

She said: “Our social value as a business goes right back to when we first opened over 40 years ago. As an association, our purpose is to provide good quality homes for people across a range of needs, but also to maximise the well-being of people in our communities. It has always been part of our DNA to have a social conscience.”

David Cummins, CEO of WHA, said: “Warrington Housing Association board’s vision isn’t just about housing; it is to make Warrington a better to live. We take the wider benefits of what we do very seriously. The board have a long-term serious investment in social value because we fundamentally believe it is the right thing to do. Gerry’s new title confirms her role at forefront of driving us on to make Warrington the best place to live.”

Gerry added: “The board have invested in social value, and you see up close every day the difference we are making to people. As a housing association, we want to provide the best homes and be as affordable as we can, but you can’t house everybody, so it is vital we try to help people in other ways too. I think sometimes social value can be a bit theoretical, but we are practical. We are making a difference on a practical level.

“We created our home improvement agency WHiA in 2007 to be a positive influence on ensuring standards in the private sector – and the private rental sector increasingly – are as good as they can be. It is important to have someone trusted to call upon because we know there is a very strong link between the quality of housing and health. We now support about 2,000 people in Warrington every year.”

Gerry explained how gets a huge sense of personal joy from seeing how LifeTime, WHA’s over-50s service has developed.

“From choosing the paint colours and chairs to welcoming people in, it has been amazing. We opened the doors in 2013 without a single member or a single thing on the programme and I have loved every minute of building it up and seeing the difference it makes to people, whether they are a volunteer, coming to just have a cup of tea and say hello to a few people or coming nearly every day of the week to join in something.

“We now have about 50 dedicated volunteers and run around 50 activities a week – with 600 people taking part regularly every month. You only have to walk through our LifeTime centre to see people who would have otherwise been isolated, people who tell you ‘Oh my goodness, this means everything to me’.”

Her team are currently working on a number of social strategies, including ways to reduce unnecessary admissions to hospital by supporting people to remain at home successfully.

She said: “That might only mean moving some furniture around so they can have a bed downstairs, but it can be critical for them.”

Gerry has been with WHA for 18 years. After a degree in environmental planning from Queen’s University Belfast, she took her RTPI qualifications while at Stockport Council before on to more people-focused project work through estate action schemes in St Helens, and at Housing Action Trust in Liverpool.

After moving to Warrington and career break to have her children, Gerry joined WHA in 2004. She said: “I was keen to have a job that was people-focused and making a difference. It has been really nice to work in the town I actually live in because you feel so connected, making a difference to the streets you drive down every day. I have been known to take a bunch of leaflets down to the park at the weekend and saying to people why don’t you come and join in – I am never off duty!”

Gerry has two grown-up sons and is a late but hugely keen convert to running and ran the Warrington Half Marathon with WHA CEO David Cummins this year.

Find out more about LifeTime here or ring 01925 246824 

If you own your own home or live in private rented accommodation in Warrington, and are older, disabled or vulnerable people or families on low incomes and in need of repairs or advice from a trusted professional, visit WHiA’s website or call 01925 246812. 

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