Tree Shepherd has recently started running an 8-week start your own enterprise course with SW9 Community Housing for residents. We met Community Engagement and Communications Manager, Komal Doan, to find our more about it.
Tree Shepherd: Tell me about SW9 Community Housing and what services you provide to residents?
Komal: SW9 is resident-led, our Board is made up of residents, other than the repairs and cleaning, we really believe we can help transform and change the quality of our residents’ lives. We want to make a difference in people’s lives and want to provide the skills we need. We have a resident-led improvement panel, offer homework clubs, diplomas in beauty therapy and a range of employability services. Our RISE programme is part of that. It’s important people to develop and don’t feel static. We are lucky to work with some great partners and also recently recruited a resident apprentice. This year we’re hoping to introduce grants, so people can purchase the tools they need to start up, to do their jobs, and reach their ambitions . Investing in our community helps us to understand issues that are important and empowers communities to work together in building a stronger and trusting relationship”.
TS: Why did you choose to partner with Tree Shepherd?
Komal: I was looking for someone local, who works specifically with housing associations and landlords. I knew someone who had gone through the course and they personally attested to the brilliant effects it had. SW9 is very much about keeping it local and Tree Shepherd is truly local, and understands the make-up of our community, how social housing works, and working with your team is amazing – they are so motivational yet calming. I was also impressed by the opportunity for our residents to join a continuous and evolving network. You’re providing something I haven’t seen anywhere else.
TS: What’s different about working with a small social enterprise or charity than a bigger firm?
Komal: It’s more personalised, and works with individuals, which I wouldn’t get online. You have dedicated that all-important time to our residents that makes the difference. We don’t want solutions which are off the shelf – they have to be as personalised so we can.
TS: What are the challenges and pressures since COVID?
Komal: I think the interaction and connection is the hardest part – we are such a community, we are used to having fun days, community days, lots of door step conversations. That’s our biggest challenge. We are doing lots online but nothing beats actually being together.
TS: How can charities and social enterprises work better together with housing associations?
Komal: Marketing is really important – making sure you make use our local channels like our newsletters, which Tree Shepherd has done, and also finding a way to refer people on an individualised basis. I’d encourage all charities wanting to partner with housing associations to really get to know their clients, to do presentations at staff meetings, meet us and chat with us. It would also be great to look at setting up multi-agency programmes.
TS: What are your hopes for 2021?
Komal: Ideally I would love to see COVID decreasing, so we can get back to having our community events! It sounds like a dream but connection is so important. I would love to see residents working with us even more closely, for community initiatives to flourish, with residents really engaged. Most of all I would love to see those taking the course to progress their ambitions and employment ideas, so that people are getting work experience, getting interviews, starting up new businesses. And we can all celebrate their success together!
Sandra Ferguson, Programme Development Manager at Tree Shepherd, said “Tree Shepherd is pleased to be delivering employment and enterprise support to SW9’s residents. Covid has seen increasing interest in starting a business, particularly doing business online. The Start Your Own Enterprise (SYOE) course is helping people to explore new ideas and to find out what works for them. Residents on the course have been developing skills for finding a job and running their own business and we look forward to helping them on their journey.”
To find out more about the course please get in touch with us on firstname.lastname@example.org or call 020 3948 3020.