A new partnership protocol between housing associations and restorative justice agencies will support local communities and tackle difficult problems like anti-social behaviour, the Northern Ireland Federation of Housing Associations (NIFHA) said today.
The Social Housing and Restorative Practice (SHARP) initiative provides a formal framework that will give housing associations greater access to independent and professional services including mediation, community support casework and direct intervention activities with families and young people.
Developed by NIFHA, Community Restorative Justice Ireland (CRJI) and Northern Ireland Alternatives (NIA), the collaboration offers communities greater levels of support to address challenging situations and promote positive change within their neighbourhoods.
Jennie Donald, Deputy Chief Executive of NIFHA said:
“Housing associations have a successful record of investing in great homes and thriving communities, but they want to do much more and are proactively identifying the areas of need where they and specialist partners can make a difference. Addressing negative behaviours and difficult situations that exist within communities is one of the most challenging areas of work for housing associations, but one where our members are committed to making a difference.”
“SHARP builds on successful models of practice that already exist between the Northern Ireland Housing Executive, CRJI and NIA. It formalises partnerships with organisations that have a strong presence in local communities and will equip and support housing associations to drive greater positive change on the ground. NIFHA believes that working together we can deliver real benefits for communities and we are delighted to launch this new partnership model.”
Deborah Watters, Assistant Director of NIA and Harry Maguire, Director of CRJI, said:
“We warmly welcome the interest and initiative displayed by our new housing association partners that will greatly assist us in our mission to help create safer and more connected communities. The commitment of such significant social landlords to tackling the problems caused by anti-social behaviour and community disputes represents a big step forward for those who want to see more restorative and inclusive solutions to such issues. It is our hope that together with NIFHA’s membership we can forge a successful partnership that will benefit as many residents as possible.”
Fold Group, one of Northern Ireland’s largest housing associations, is the first to sign up to SHARP. Eileen Patterson, Director of Housing Services said:
“Fold is committed not only to building high quality homes but to building strong, safe and sustainable communities. We acknowledge that we need to invest in supporting our local communities and that there will be times when some people need support to sustain their tenancies. This partnership with Northern Ireland Alternatives and Community Restorative Justice will greatly enable us to effectively provide that support. I believe that everyone has something to offer and this partnership will help us to support individuals and their families and provide them with an opportunity to make a positive contribution to the communities they live in.”
Notes to Editors
- NIFHA is the representative body for housing associations in Northern Ireland. It works to create the best possible strategic and operating environment for its members and support them in delivering great homes and thriving communities.
- There are 26 registered housing associations working across Northern Ireland, with around 44,000 homes under management. Housing associations provide family accommodation, sheltered and supported housing and properties for shared ownership as well as a range of housing, care and support services and community investment activity. Housing associations develop all new social housing in Northern Ireland and are committed to providing 2,000 new starts in 2014/15.
- Fold Group is one of the leading housing associations, providing 6,000 homes as well as housing, care and support services to over 30,000 households in Northern Ireland. Fold employs around 800 people in 96 locations across the country.
- Northern Ireland Alternatives and Community Restorative Justice Ireland are restorative justice organisations working in socially disadvantaged communities across Belfast, North Down, Derry and Newry. They provide a range of services from mediation, community support, youth programmes, intervention in neighbourhood disputes, advice and training.