Purpose of this Statement
This statement outlines Riverside’s commitment to social value, and explains how we will deliver, measure and report on this work.
What do we mean by Social Value?
Projects or services that deliver an improvement to the economic, social and environmental wellbeing of an area.
Why is it important to Riverside?
Riverside is a housing association that has been providing affordable homes and investing in communities for over 90 years. Our vision is “Transforming Lives, Revitalising Communities”. To achieve this vision, it is essential that we go beyond just providing homes; we must also deliver services and projects to enhance our customers’ lives and ensure our communities remain sustainable and resilient.
Our Riverside Way summarises our values, our keen sense of social responsibility and accountability to customers; We Care, We are Inclusive, and We are Trusted. We pride ourselves in doing business in an ethical way, whilst benefiting the environment.
Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) reporting is becoming more common across the sector as organisations respond to the increasing scrutiny from stakeholders. Find our latest ESG report here. We continue to use the Sustainability Reporting Standard as a framework, as we know it allows comparability across the sector.
We are committed to investing in added-value activities for individuals and broader communities, whilst delivering measurable positive outcomes. We are inherently committed to being an ethical and social business through the Riverside Foundation to deliver a range of initiatives and outcomes which improve the lives of people or households.
What we currently do?
Riverside Foundation is an independent, registered charity, but The Riverside Group is its main donor. Its charitable object is to: “promote any charitable purpose within and around the area where the charity The Riverside Group Limited… has provided housing accommodation… and in particular charitable purposes… with the object of improving the conditions of life for the inhabitants of the area of benefit”. The charity is a grant giving body so does not deliver projects but provides grants to Riverside group projects and small external community projects.
In 2022, The Riverside Group made a £2.5m contribution to the Riverside Foundation, which was one of the pledges made as part of the merger with One Housing Group. This £2.5m will be an annual donation, which will increase with inflation.
This new investment has enabled the Foundation to continue to deliver established services, whilst rapidly scaling up its support for communities, and seeking new ways to help people tackle the cost-of-living crisis.
The new investment has been split into three funding streams:
- Helping Hands – providing crisis grants for customers to purchase essential items, such as white goods and food.
- Community Fund – providing grants to local groups to deliver projects which will benefit the local community.
- Strategic fund – funding larger scale projects that will support Riverside customers and communities.
The new funding has also expanded our Helping Hands fund, providing small grants to customers in need. This has enabled one-off purchases such as replacing a cooker, providing fuel top-up vouchers, or interview clothing.
We have also been able to introduce a new Community Fund, which has provided significant funding to local community groups, providing activities such as food banks, warm hubs, environmental projects and community events.
Community Planning and Resilience
The Community Planning and Resilience team work in partnership to deliver against both the Community Plans that we have in place in our priority communities, plus the objectives of our Communities and Livelihoods strategy. The team works with local partners, utilises social value extracted from contracts, and promotes volunteering opportunities to internal staff to maximise the impact of their work.
The Employment and Training team sits within the Community Planning and Resilience team and provides support to anyone living in a Riverside home. We provide one to one support as well as signpost to trusted local providers, supporting customers into training and employment. This includes helping people already in work to find better jobs to maximise their income. We also access funding from the Riverside Foundation to support customers we are working with to remove barriers to accessing opportunities.
The Income Maximisation team supports customers who are in, or who are in danger of becoming in, financial difficulty. The team offers several services. The Money Advice team provide expert advice and assistance to customers with regards to welfare benefits, including help to those being moved over to Universal Credit. The Affordable Warmth team provides advice and assistance to those in debt with fuel bills and those who have had supplies disconnected or face disconnection, as well as general advice on energy use.
The Affordability team work with our lettings team to provide advice and assistance to those applying for Riverside tenancies, regarding benefit entitlement, setting up home and budgeting for a new tenancy.
Care and Support
We deliver a range of Care and Support services nationally including supported housing for people affected by homelessness, services for older people including retirement living and extra care, and more specialist services including services for people with mental health support needs. We undertake various social value activities, including those focused on improving customers’ health and wellbeing, reducing social isolation, promoting positive relationships and developing independent living skills. We also promote volunteering within our services and the community, and through our GROW (Giving Real Opportunities for Work) programme we provide paid employment opportunities for people with lived experience of homelessness. We work with a range of partners including local businesses, voluntary and community sector organisations, and grant funders to deliver tailored social value activities within services and the wider community.
Asset Management, supported by the two wholly owned subsidiaries: Evolve and Riverside Direct, often provide asset and environmental improvement projects in Riverside communities. They also take on several apprentices each year and offer work experience to local college students
As the largest provider of supported housing for people affected by homelessness in the UK, we believe vulnerable people should have access to support services to enable them to make meaningful changes to their lives. That is why we are working with a range of partners across the country to maximise our impact in working towards our common goal of Ending Homelessness Together.
We work with our supply chain to support social value and responsible business. Our Group Procurement Policy commits to the creation of economic, social and environmental benefits for local communities. Our procurement activities are in line with the requirements of the Public Services (Social Value) Act 2012. We encourage our supply chain to provide employment opportunities, work experience, training, volunteering and apprenticeship programmes. We also welcome contributions to the Riverside Foundation.
Social Value Priorities
There is currently no set priorities for social value activities. However, Riverside will align with the strategic priorities of the Group-wide Livelihoods and Communities and the priorities of the Riverside Foundation, which are:
- Prevent evictions and homelessness by proactively working with customers to sustain their tenancies.
- Support the livelihoods of our customers through projects that provide advice and support and build capacity for people to improve their own lives – going beyond the traditional landlord service.
- Promote community resilience and empowerment by supporting new and existing voluntary groups who are trying to make life better in our neighbourhoods.
What do we want to achieve in the future?
We want a coordinated approach to social value that will bring maximum opportunities and benefits to our customers and communities to support their economic prosperity, health and wellbeing, and independence. We want to ensure we can genuinely measure the impact of our social value projects and services and be confident in communicating this story to our customers, staff and stakeholders.
How will we do it?
- The Riverside Foundation, with an agreed Business Plan, which will fund services and projects with a positive impact on our customers and communities.
- A robust understanding of customers’ and communities’ needs through Regional and Neighbourhood Plans to be able inform services and projects.
- A commitment to securing and extracting social value through our procurement activities, to be informed by our strategic objectives and local need.
- An agreed approach to how we monitor our social value activities and how we measure the impact.
- An agreed approach to how we publicise our social value work.