EXPERTS from Newcastle University are working with a local housing provider to find ways to improve the way residents can influence the services they receive.
Byker Community Trust (BCT), which owns and manages the Grade II* listed Byker Estate, has embarked on a two-year research programme with the university.
The partnership has secured funding worth £129,000, believed to be the largest awarded to any Northern housing association as part of a knowledge transfer partnership (KTP).
“The knowledge transfer partnership will enable BCT to work with residents to innovate the services it offers them,” said Jill Haley, BCT’s chief executive.
“This can lead to the creation of a culture where residents can influence the services provided to them, whilst housing associations can deliver more cost-effective solutions that are of genuine benefit and interest to residents and the community.
“With the academic expertise of partners from Newcastle University and the in-house knowledge of the BCT team, we are looking forward to producing ground-breaking research which may benefit the housing sector and can serve as a great case study for other housing associations.”
The programme is supported by Innovate UK and the Economic & Social Research Council (ESRC). It aims to build on ‘Byker Approach’, a housing management model BCT has developed to successfully engage with residents.
Last year, the organisation won the outstanding innovation category at the Chartered Institute of Housing North East awards, recognising its innovative approach to delivering services, reducing costs and improving services for its residents.
“The partnership will be a great opportunity to analyse and apply ground-breaking academic research to a North East housing association,” said Lisa van Heereveld, 24, who BCT has appointed to lead the project.
“Having recently completed my MSc in Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship at Newcastle University, I am excited to continue work with the university in a way that benefits the Byker community as well as BCT as an organisation.”
Academics from Newcastle University will support the partnership with expertise based on the most up-to-date research about community engagement and innovation in the services sector.
One of the specific areas the project will look at is ways in which BCT tenants and residents can contribute their own ideas and shape the service delivered by the housing association.
“We are excited to be working with Lisa, BCT and partners on this innovative project,” said Dr Eleftherios Alamanos, researcher and degree programme director of BSc marketing at the university. “It is one of the few KTPs that investigates the social and economic impact of community engagement.
“The project will help a not-for-profit organisation like BCT not only co-create value for its customers by identifying and satisfying their needs and expectations; but also reinvest into and support Byker communities.”