ARCHIE: Being independently better together
By Larke Adger, CEO, West Granton Housing Co-operative.
The Alliance of Registered Co-operatives and Housing Associations Independent in Edinburgh (ARCHIE) has seven members: Lister Housing Co-operative, Manor Estates Housing Association, Muirhouse Housing Association, Port of Leith Housing Association, Prospect Housing Association, Viewpoint Housing Association and West Granton Housing Co-operative.
The effects of Covid and its pressures on our local communities over the past year have been profound. The challenges social landlords have encountered have been testing to say the least, as we achieved what we once thought impossible: delivering essential services to our tenants from within the containment of our kitchen or spare bedroom.
We have maintained those all-important working relationships through the medium of virtual technologies, something once thought of as more ‘space age and futuristic’ as opposed to becoming our new norm. All of these things, and more, have meant the relationship between local housing associations and co-operatives became invaluable as has the need to support one another through these unprecedented times.
It is here that ARCHIE has really come into its own. Just over a year ago, we were preparing for our first ARCHIE AGM. And then….Covid. Lockdown kicked in. A game changer. For everyone.
With its formal constitution and corporate strategic objectives, ARCHIE became all about the relationship between its members.
Whilst Scotland plunged into level four restrictions, the partners of this ‘new’ alliance came together. Now, we could use business-like jargon phrases, such as collaboration and successful joint partnership working, but, in essence, it was genuine peer support and the willingness for us all to be contactable and available to each other throughout this period which has really brought us together as a true alliance.
Our group meetings continued through Teams, and we have had the knowledge and support of seven CEOs ‘on-tap’, at the click of a send button via email. All this, and we have still had time to jointly bid for a debt advice project, energy saving products and Chromebooks for our tenants and set up a Critical Friend Support network among our managers, looking at areas such as voids and EESSH2. ARCHIE’s alliance has grown from strength to strength through a time of adversity, and, as we ease out of restrictions, it is encouraging to know that all seven of us are still as determined as ever to deliver the best that we can to our communities, both independently and together.