What to learn from award-winning organisations

  • The Alarm Risk Awards showcase innovative ways in which public service and community organisations effectively manage risk
  • We look at how one winner is partnering up with local councils to change empty properties into affordable housing, while creating employment opportunities
  • And how another is improving a council’s information governance resilience

Local government is undergoing a period of significant change. Reduced funding, devolution, new service delivery models – all present their own challenges that organisations must confront.

Each year, the Alarm Risk Awards celebrate the achievements of the public service and community organisations in rising to these challenges, showcasing some of the innovative and forward-thinking ways to manage risk effectively.

We sponsored two categories – the Community Award and Strategic Award. “Shortlisted candidates demonstrated real proactivity in their management of risk and ways that local government can adapt to their own unique challenges,” says Wayne Rigby, Alarm Chairman.

Turning empty properties into homes

The Community Award focuses on how managing risk can improve resilience and cohesion in a community.

This year’s winner was Coast & Country Housing for its Empty Homes Project, which, working in partnership with eight local authorities, is renovating more than 300 empty properties into affordable housing, generating a wide range of benefits for the surrounding communities.

Starting small, but thinking big

The project began in 2010 by renovating small, unoccupied houses to address issues of antisocial behaviour and crime. Since then, the organisation has vastly expanded its operations, and is now also undertaking much larger projects.

For example, the initiative recently renovated a large derelict office block in Darlington into 47 affordable apartments – its most ambitious project to date.

Creating wider benefits

Through its work, the Empty Homes Project not only addresses the direct risks associated with empty properties, but also provides more affordable housing, while offering employment and training opportunities for the community.

To date, 108 training and volunteering roles have been created, 26 apprenticeships have been offered, and 16 people have gained full-time employment as a result of the scheme.

“Coast & Country Housing identified clear evidence of the wider impact of empty properties. Through its work, it is also helping those affected by recent welfare reforms to gain access to affordable housing and is demonstrating a real impact at community level,” says Wayne.

Innovative solutions to information governance resilience

The Strategic Award looks for innovative approaches to the management of risk. The judges were seeking solutions that have not only helped an organisation to survive, but also to thrive.

Public service and community organisations can learn from the winning initiatives showcased in this year’s awards, and use them to develop their own risk management solutions”
Wayne Rigby, Alarm Chairman

The 2015 winner was Plymouth City Council for its strategy to improve the council’s information governance resilience, and to ensure on-going legislative compliance.

Overcoming challenges

Good information governance provides people with confidence that their personal information is being handled properly, protects the vulnerable, aids the delivery of services and ensures that transparency requirements are met.

Plymouth City Council saw addressing this risk as a strategic priority. Despite experiencing a period of re-organisation and financial constraints, the council persevered to establish an improved approach, working diligently to ensure all staff dealt with data appropriately.

Wayne says: “Information governance is a very topical and important issue. Plymouth City Council implemented a strategy that not only met legislative compliance, but was also effective in addressing a number of wider risks facing the organisation.”

Learning from one another

Despite the current economic climate, local government has demonstrated that it is not only able to rise to the challenge, but can also continue to deliver the services that are important to its communities.

“Other public service and community organisations can learn from the winning initiatives showcased in this year’s awards, and use them to develop their own risk management solutions,” says Wayne.

“We would encourage all those organisations that do excellent work to put themselves forward for next year’s awards, not only to be recognised for their achievements, but to help all those other organisations facing similar challenges.”