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Wheatley Group: two years on and still going strong

A blog post by Dougie Johnston

It’s no secret that our health and well-being is affected by our surroundings. We’ve known for over a century that there are links between poor housing and poor health. Where we live also has an impact on our fear of crime, affects our education and can influence our choices. That’s why it’s so important we work to maintain high quality environments for people to be proud of.

We have been working closely with the Wheatley Group – Scotland’s largest Registered Social Landlord – since 2016 and began a 2-year rolling programme in January 2017. In those two years, we’ve carried out environmental audits of 430 of their properties looking at elements such as litter, graffiti and bin facilities as well as the cleanliness of car parks, grounds, lifts and communal areas. This has allowed the Wheatley Group to benchmark their properties, see areas for improvement and assess the effectiveness of their work on local environmental quality.

We awarded neighbourhoods (divided by local housing offices) with a rating from 3 to 5 stars, based on the criteria applicable to our own National Award for Environmental Excellence®. We provided the Wheatley Group with recommendations of where improvements could be made for the benefit of those who live there and also recognised areas of good practice. These recommendations are now embedded in their actions to take at each location.

Undertaking this work, we’ve been all over Glasgow - Royston, Pollock, Knightswood and many more, as well as sites in Edinburgh. We’ve even audited Collina Street aka Osprey Heights! We’ve met staff in lots of roles and our work has highlighted the importance of the Neighbourhood Environmental Teams in the delivery of environmental excellence. It’s been great to know they’re appreciative of our external recognition of their work in making communities clean and well maintained.

As part of our partnership working we have also held training days for staff and residents giving a basic understanding of our assessments and sharing photos of what we’ve been looking at, those that score well and what not so well. These sessions have been oversubscribed and have led to an increase in uptake in training as well as an increase in interest from customers in what the Wheatley Group do.

We were recently invited to speak at the Wheatley Group’s Neighbourhood Environmental Teams Conference - an event for neighbourhood-based Wheatley employees which is a considerable undertaking due to the logistics of having 750 field staff. Over a period of 5 days staff could network and participate in breakout sessions. The conference culminated for us in the afternoon guest speaker spot where we delivered a presentation on our findings and identified the positive areas where advancements have been made. For those neighbourhoods achieving a standard of 5 star, we presented plaques in recognition of the standard attained, acknowledging the major contribution and difference the Wheatley organisation are making to the quality of their customers’ living environment. 

But our work doesn’t stop here, we assess other Housing Associations in Scotland recognising their environmental achievements. We also assess other sectors and have awarded over 100 business locations so far including shopping centres, hospitals, train stations and leisure centres with our National Award for Environmental Excellence®. You can read our case studies to find out more about our approach and how we make a difference.

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