Tower Blocks in Larne

Tower Blocks in Larne

Tower block residents’ specific living circumstances make them a distinct group that need their own dedicated representation to the Housing Executive. Just as the Rural Forum and Disability Forum represent groups with unique interests within the Housing Community Network, tower block residents also need dedicated support to engage effectively and be a part of the successful HCN framework.

The Housing Executive engaged Supporting Communities to deliver a 12-month Project, starting in Spring 2018, to encourage residents of their 33 tower blocks to have their say on the issues which affect them.

The project aimed to develop community infrastructure and engagement structures through which the Housing Executive could engage with their tower block residents. Project funding enabled Supporting Communities to appoint a Project Coordinator and Training Officer, who provided dedicated support to tower block residents who wanted to get involved.

Sarah Harkness-Robinson, Supporting Communities Tower Block Project Coordinator, meets with NIHE NORTH BELFAST MANAGER MALACHY MCKINNEY (LEFT) AND ANDREW TWIGG, NIHE CONCIERGE SERVICES MANAGER (Right).

Sarah Harkness-Robinson, Supporting Communities Tower Block Project Coordinator, meets with NIHE NORTH BELFAST MANAGER MALACHY MCKINNEY (LEFT) AND ANDREW TWIGG, NIHE CONCIERGE SERVICES MANAGER (Right).

Aims of the Project

The overarching aim of the Tower Block Project was to improve communication between the Housing Executive and their tower block residents, regardless of tenure.

To do this, the Project set out to:

  • Support the development of new community representation in tower blocks where none existed.

  • Support and develop established community representation in tower blocks.

  • Provide Housing Executive high rise residents with an opportunity to have their say on the issues which are unique to them.

  • Help the Housing Executive to engage directly with residents, who can in turn influence decisions which directly affect them.

  • Establish a Tower Block Tenant’s Forum, drawing representation from across the 33 tower blocks in Northern Ireland and sitting as part of the HCN.

Project Achievements

Community Representation

A key aim of the Project was to extend high-rise resident representation. We achieved increased levels of participation and representation by 24%.

  • Pre-Project: 15 tower blocks had community representation (46%)

  • Post-Project: 23 tower blocks have community representation (70%) – increased by 8 blocks/24%

  • We identified further interest in 6 additional tower blocks which could be built upon.

Engagement with the Housing Executive

The Project provided increased opportunities for residents to engage directly with the Housing Executive. For example, through Local Housing Forum meetings and “Meet and Greet” sessions between community representatives & local Housing Executive staff. We also offered information to residents which would allow them to engage with the Housing Executive on an individual basis. 

Representative Forum

Another of the Project initially, was to develop a Tower Block Tenant’s Forum, from which representation would be drawn from across the 33 tower blocks. However, as the Project progressed, the Housing Executive advised this was no longer a priority.  Instead, we placed a greater focus on developing community representation across the 33 tower blocks themselves.  In doing so, local offices can now engage directly with community representatives regarding Fire Safety, the Housing Executive’s Tower Block Strategy, etc.