Affordable housing
10th July 2020
Housing market shift
10th July 2020

Supporting communities in challenging times

Sheena McCallion, Apex’s Chief Executive.

During the last year, Apex Housing Association has secured its position as one of the leading socially responsible organisations in Northern Ireland.

Its long-standing commitment to investing in communities has helped change thousands of people’s lives for the better and was recognised by Business in the Community NI, Social Enterprise NI and the Chartered Institute of Housing at their most recent annual awards.

Apex is one of Northern Ireland’s biggest housing associations. Managed by a voluntary board, it currently owns and manages 6,000 homes, with plans to increase this to over 7,000 homes in the next three years.

Sustained housing growth is at the centre of Apex’s future plans which will be successfully delivered through its ambitious house-building programme, providing up to 500 new homes annually over the next three years. While the majority will be social housing for rent, the Apex Group will also increase its provision of affordable housing to assist those struggling to get on the property ladder.

Sheena McCallion, Apex’s Chief Executive, acknowledges that this is an enormous opportunity to help meet the current and future housing needs of families in housing stress. Moreover, these ambitious growth plans provide the platform to drive forward the wider community benefits Apex wants to deliver for its tenants, recognising the increasingly challenging environment within which it operates.

Teresa McCloskey from Apex (second from right) is presented with the ‘Investing in your community’ award at the annual Business in the Community Awards.

“Our innovative community investment strategy is assisting us in responding to these challenges and enabling us to explore opportunities that will ensure we continue to deliver excellent services, support our tenants and build vibrant and thriving communities as we move forward.

“At this extraordinary time and as we respond to the daily challenges we face through the coronavirus pandemic, we are very much aware of the increasing need for vital wraparound services to support tenancies and tackle the financial stresses we see every day in many of our communities. We have already responded positively, seeking out innovative approaches and working in collaboration to deliver positive outcomes for our tenants and communities.”

“Apex Community Supermarket is a unique service. People who are struggling financially are provided with high quality nutritious food; and the kitchen, which is the best I’ve seen in Ireland and built to MasterChef standards, provides an excellent space for fun cooking demonstrations. I have rarely seen a better standard.”

— Brian McDermott, Celebrity Chef

“During a stay in hospital, healthcare staff were worried about how I would look after myself when I got home as I don’t cook; and recommended the Apex Luncheon Club. The food is very good; the casseroles and stews are my favourite. But the main benefit is the company, it gets you out of the house and I’ve made many friends here. I get picked up by the Apex bus and left home too; you couldn’t ask for a better service.”

— Kevin Doherty, Apex Luncheon Club member

“Children in Crossfire have been working with Apex for almost 20 years now. Together we have delivered life-changing results for thousands of children in some of the most impoverished communities of the world. Right now, Apex is resourcing the construction of 13 classrooms in the Misungwi district of northern Tanzania. This will ensure hundreds of children have access to the education we believe every child deserves.”

— Richard Moore, CEO of Children in Crossfire

“Over the past year, we have achieved much more by working in partnership with Apex. Together we have been successful in sourcing funding to employ a worker to support the tenants in Skeoge. We are looking forward to occupying the purpose built, state of the art community building located within an Apex housing estate to help support local people.”

— Ciara Ferguson, Manager of Greater Shantallow Area Partnership (Derry~Londonderry)

Community Investment Strategy 2020–2023

Apex’s new three-year community investment strategy was launched in May 2020 and has been developed with the aim of supporting communities beyond its core landlord purpose. The common goals have been shaped by feedback from stakeholders including tenants, community groups and employees and target five pillars of activity:

  • community empowerment and engagement;
  • health and well-being;
  • financial well-being
  • work and learning; and
  • volunteering.

Working beyond our core activities

Ms McCallion explains the increasing need to support communities and how this will be achieved over the next three years: “We work across a range of vibrant and diverse communities throughout Northern Ireland. As a social landlord, we see on a daily basis the impact of welfare reform and the coronavirus pandemic on already vulnerable members of our communities. We recognise the need to deliver a range of programmes and services that instigate positive change and make a fundamental difference to people’s lives, thereby making our communities a better place to live.

Luncheon Club member Kevin Doherty pictured with Donna Matthewson, Director of Housing at Apex and Patricia McColgan, Head Cook.

“Through investing in people, property and the environment, we aim to make a positive difference. To help achieve our aim, we work with a number of invaluable community partners to enable tenants and residents to access a range of initiatives including self-development programmes, advice on health and well-being, budgeting and employment opportunities.”

Programmes and Initiatives

Welfare advice and financial inclusion: Our Welfare Advice Officers support tenants by providing benefits and budgeting advice and signposting to partner organisations.
Apex Community Supermarket: With support from the Department for Communities and local food businesses, Apex Community Supermarket supports families on their journey out of food insecurity towards food independence.

Community allotments: Through our community allotments at Ballymagowan Park in Derry~Londonderry, allotment users are supported to grow their own fresh vegetables, learn new skills and develop new friendships.

Training and employment opportunities: A wide range of training opportunities have been provided including good relations, first aid and essential business skills. This is supported by our volunteering opportunities and the learning opportunities provided through our excellent network of community hubs.

The Apex Luncheon Club: Our luncheon club provides 80 nutritious meals per week to older people whilst encouraging friendships and helping to combat social isolation and loneliness.

Apex with Children in Crossfire: With the dedication of staff and tenants, we have invested more than a quarter of a million pounds in two communities in Africa, transforming the lives and life chances of thousands of local people.

Supporting local charities to thrive: We have been successful in not only encouraging the set up and development of much needed new local charities, but also in supporting existing local charities to be the best they can be by providing resources, staff support and by building effective long-term partnerships.

T: 028 7130 4800