Stockport Homes Group provides housing and builds new homes in Stockport. They were formed in 2005, to manage housing stock across Stockport on behalf of Stockport Council.
As a limited company, they operate as an arm’s length management organisation (ALMO), so whilst the company is owned by the Council, they operate independently on day-to-day matters and deliver services to customers
We heard from Liz Smith, Head of Anti-Social Behaviour at Stockport Homes Group. Liz Smith has worked in Community Safety and Housing for 23 years with the last 15 of those years being at Stockport Homes in Greater Manchester.
Liz is committed to the continuous improvement of community safety services in Stockport and has been responsible for the development and implementation of a range of strategies, policies and procedures relating to crime and ASB. This has included the transfer of private sector casework from the Council and providing a tenure neutral ASB service across Stockport.
Liz is passionate about customer engagement and working with residents to help shape services, improving the life chances of vulnerable victims and perpetrators to ensure that ASB is successfully tackled and not tolerated. Liz provided us with an insight into better ways of onboarding ASB practitioners through digital training programmes:
When I think back to my first few weeks working in anti-social behaviour, I remember a minefield of regulations, processes and different types of cases, all of which had to be learned and then applied to my work.
I had the advantage of having moved from a related career as a housing officer and I already had a keen interest in ASB but still, I found myself on an extremely steep learning curve and I leant heavily on colleagues while I accumulated the knowledge and confidence, I needed to take those first few steps.
Wind forward 19 years and few would question that the pressure on the ASB workforce has increased severalfold. The number of cases has certainly gone up, the figures show that. And 2020 has been a year like no other, with many organisations managing the equivalent of almost a years’ worth of work in just six months.
Like many organisations, at Stockport Homes Group (SHG), we have seen that increase in cases and inevitably from time to time will recruit new staff as vacancies arise. This means supporting new recruits while they settle in, of course, but also providing formal training and onboarding so they develop the skills and knowledge needed to deliver excellent services and contribute to the team as soon as possible, almost hitting the ground running.
I have known for a while that, compared to my own experience of feeling daunted and overwhelmed as a new starter and especially with the technology now available, there must be a better way to manage people’s learning about ASB as part of the onboarding process. I had also noticed looking at other parts of the public and non-profit sectors that digital, or e-learning, was a fantastic way to enable existing staff to top up learning through regular online refreshers.
This is why when Me Learning approached SHG about developing what we believe is the first comprehensive online digital training package for ASB practitioners in the UK, we jumped at the chance to be involved. We have purposely designed the content as a complete package to train new starters on the basics, but I think it is equally useful for more experienced staff to access individual modules to top up training on specific topics.
The programme, which involves six 25-minute online learning modules, has been developed specifically for ASB professionals in housing associations, local authorities and neighbourhood policing teams, so they quickly develop a better understanding of the anti-social behaviour management process and their role within in.
It’s well known that people have different learning styles and there will always be a place for classroom learning for those who prefer that method, but I feel this package fits the gap for those learners who are more visual or prefer lone-learning in a less formal setting and at a pace that suits them. It provides in-depth online study which can be accomplished by learners, usually during their first week in the job. The programme uses cutting-edge learning techniques which have been successfully deployed in a range of other settings in local authorities, in health and with the police, so all proven to help learners remember large quantities of information.
The real beauty though, especially right now with social distancing in place is that all learning is completed online, so it can be accessed anywhere with an internet connection and at any time.
I have worked with Me Learning on the ASB programme of study to ensure that learners are introduced to best practice principles in all areas of managing an anti-social behaviour case, from taking on a case, right through to using legal tools and powers to resolve reports.
Once all modules are completed, learners will have gained a good knowledge of:
- Effective case work practices to investigate and resolve reports of antisocial behaviour
- The range of early intervention tools that are available to agencies involved in tackling antisocial behaviour and how to use them appropriately
- How to engage a witness into the case process
- Recognising when a person is vulnerable and understand how to make the appropriate referral for support
- The Risk Assessment Matrix and how to use it
- The skills needed to interview a witness effectively in order to capture relevant and accurate information
- How to write a statement under the civil procedure process
- How to develop partner relationships and the available tools and powers to other partner agencies
- The skills needed to communicate and collaborate in complex partnership environments.
For me and my team, this means during the first week in a role individuals can access good quality and consistent training, without the need to wait for a training slot to become available weeks or even months down the line. It is also cheaper to deliver which should help us provide more training to more people over time. I also love that other staff in our organisations who aren’t actual ASB Officers, such as Housing Officers or Housing Support Officers can still undertake this training and get benefit from it as it will increase their knowledge of what SHG can do for the customers they engage with on a daily basis. It equips staff with the knowledge to provide excellent services which are what SHG is all about.
From my own experience, what new recruits want is to build the knowledge and confidence they need to do their job and do it well. SHG is an award-winning organisation that is committed to helping our people to be the best they can be and an important part of this is making sure induction processes and training are effective right from the start so that from day one all our team members are in the best possible position to deliver a first-class service to our customers who are at the heart of everything we do.
To find out more about Me Learning’s ASB training programme https://shop.melearning.co.uk/courses/browse-our-courses/anti-social-behaviour/anti-social-behaviour-training-program/
Liz Smith, Head of Anti-Social Behaviour. Stockport Housing Group
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