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Aspire Housing

Housing Association Aspire Housing launched StaySafe to oversee the safety of their lone workers when visiting potentially dangerous neighbourhoods and properties.

Aspire Housing is made up of three strands; Aspire Housing, PM Training and Realise Charity. Lone working is common practice in both the Housing and Charity strands, where employees regularly visit homes and properties alone.

Housing employees visit homes to support clients as well as carrying out repairs and maintenance operations, while lone workers operating in the charity strand meet with and support young people.

Working across a range of environments and often behind closed doors, Aspire recognised that their employees could be exposed to a number of risks on a daily basis. While safety has always been a priority, Aspire identified that the dedicated device they had in place had become outdated and was no longer fit for purpose. As a result, Aspire undertook a review of the other solutions available and decided to trial StaySafe. Trial users responded positively to the new software and Aspire felt that StaySafe provided the most cost-effective and user-friendly solution for their staff.

How StaySafe helped:

  • An easy to use, time efficient alternative to an outdated system
  • Visibility of staff location on a real-time GPS map
  • Accurate and concise reporting to support Health and Safety policy
  • No extra equipment needed – staff already carry smartphones daily
  • Mandatory check-ins prompt users to check-in every 2 hours, letting Aspire know staff are safe throughout the day

Why did Aspire launch StaySafe?

Housing employees have been found to be particularly at risk of violence and aggression due to working with a diverse cross-section of the public and often behind closed doors. Shockingly, according to Inside Housing Magazine, in the UK an assault occurs every 35 working minutes. Out of 346 workers surveyed in 2015 as part of Freedom of Information requests made to every local authority in the UK, 69% reported they had been verbally assaulted within the last 12 months whilst carrying out their duties, with nine taken hostage and 27 attacked through being kicked, pushed or punched.

Aspire’s housing and charity sector lone workers are at risk when visiting members of the public, particularly vulnerable individuals who may be hostile or abusive. To mitigate these risks, Aspire use StaySafe for added reassurance that their workers are monitored and can easily signal for help when operating alone in properties and travelling between appointments.

The Results

HR Business Partner at Aspire, Clare Godbold comments:

Our Lone Workers have a positive feel for the app and find it easy to use and navigate. It is really useful that the app has a range of features and offers all the functionality we need in one place, without assistance from another device. As we have multiple workers visiting many properties and client’s homes, it is important we can keep on top of their safety between appointments through mandatory check-ins. Overall, the app adds reassurance for us and our employees and we are confident that this system offers better value for money than our previous system, which was regularly left forgotten or uncharged by our lone workers.

Aspire were also impressed by the range of additional features the StaySafe app provides. For example, Discreet Panic provides a way to signal for help out of view – from a pocket or handbag. In addition, if a member of staff is confronted by an attacker and are forced to switch off the app, entering a duress PIN conceals that the worker is signalling for help and cleverly behaves as if the app has been switched off and any alerts cancelled.

Hafod Housing

Hafod Housing are a not-for-profit organisation, providing affordable housing, care and support across South East Wales. Managing over 4,000 homes, Hafod Housing rely on a team of lone workers operating over a range of roles; from maintenance surveyors to caretakers and housing officers.

Lone workers at Hafod Housing are largely public facing and are frequently required to make visits independently to properties. Hafod works with some of the most vulnerable people in the community and do not always have the opportunity to meet and assess residents before housing them. Due to the nature of their work, Hafod’s housing officers are at higher risk of antisocial behaviours such as violence and aggression.

Those working to maintain properties regularly use ladders, heavy tools and carry out work on roofs and other potentially unstable structures. The risks they face tend to be more environmental as they are exposed to common workplace risks such as slips, trips and falls.

How StaySafe helped

  • Accurate monitoring through timed sessions and regular check-in intervals
  • Reliable alert options for situations of conflict
  • Precise location data in case of an emergency
  • Convenient and easily accessible smartphone app

Why did Hafod launch StaySafe?

Before using StaySafe, Hafod relied on a dedicated device system to monitor the safety of their lone workers. However, this system failed to meet their needs due to the absence of accurate location tracking which was vital in locating staff working alone, behind closed-doors, if an alert was raised.

Staff would also regularly forget to carry or charge these separate devices, which they were required to wear on lanyards. As an extra piece of equipment to bring to work each day, Hafod also found that staff would regularly forget to either charge the device, bring it to work with them or take it away with them before moving offsite.

Therefore, monitoring often proved impossible, and employees left vulnerable working alone.

Following a review of the market, Hafod shortlisted StaySafe as their preferred safety solution, commending both the features of the solution and the level of customer service, which went above and beyond what they had previously experienced. Hafod also concluded that by switching to StaySafe, there was no need to rely on their staff remembering additional devices, as the app is conveniently already on their phone which they naturally carry with them.

The Results

The App

Since using StaySafe, Hafod feels reassured that they are meeting their duty of care to their lone working staff. Employees can be monitored in situations that previously proved difficult to do so and the wide range of functionality provided by the app ensures there is a reliable way for them to signal for help.

Where signal and data may be limited in buildings and remote areas for Hafod Housing’s employees, StaySafe’s SMS fall-back feature allows workers to maintain uninterrupted sessions. This works through an automatic low signal mode, where the app will seek out any available connection, even at 2G, so that session functions and alerts can continue to be sent via SMS.

The Duress PIN is used by Hafod to mitigate situations where employees could face aggression from clients. If a worker is trapped in a situation where they have instigated a panic alert, but their aggressor forcibly tries to shut down the operation, the worker can enter their unique duress pin. This disguises the alert, making it appear to the aggressor that it has been cancelled. In reality, the duress alert will reach a manager as a matter of urgency.

The Hub

Through the StaySafe Hub, Hafod uses our external around-the-clock monitoring partner, Securitas to gain greater awareness of employee location and safety. The solution has proven time-saving as there is no need for manual monitoring. If an alert is sent by an employee, or they fail to check-in safely, a Securitas monitor will be alerted via email, SMS and in the Hub. The monitor can then open the Hub and immediately locate the employee and respond appropriately, escalating to the correct member of staff at Hafod.

Client Feedback

In addition to the reassurance the company now has in knowing that their workers are safe, staff have also fed back on their heightened sense of awareness of their own safety. This is important for housing workers who need to dynamically assess the environments they enter and deal with any possible risks alone. Being aware of safety and knowing that the company takes their well-being seriously, helps provide confidence that the lone workers can leave a situation if they feel uncomfortable, or call for additional assistance.

We are impressed by the versatility of the StaySafe app and broad range of features which tackle the issues we were previously facing. Switching to the StaySafe solution has proven more reliable, more user-friendly and much more efficient for lone workers and their managers. We now feel assured and wise to where our staff are which is of utmost importance as schedules can change last minute, and our staff are regularly in contact with members of the public that they have never met with before.

When talking to StaySafe, we were also incredibly impressed with the level of customer service and care we received. The StaySafe team were always on hand to answer any queries, provide additional information and even came in to train our staff. They helped make the transition from dedicated devices to a mobile app a smooth one and the support we receive still continues to this day.

-Nerys Eldridge, Project Officer, Hafod Housing Association

Altwood Group

StaySafe keeps vulnerable housing sector workers safe in the field.

Altwood logo

Employees in the housing sector can be extremely vulnerable as they are required to visit building sites and empty properties, carry out maintenance work and meet with buyers and tenants, often by themselves. Lone workers can be an easy target for verbal or physical abuse or have an accident and not be able to call for help.

In a study commissioned in 2012 by Inside Housing1 of more than 220 councils, arm’s length management organisations and housing associations in England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales it was found that 84% of survey respondents had been verbally assaulted, 8% had had a weapon used against them and 1% had been sexually assaulted.

Read more

LPC

Employees in the property and housing sectors can be extremely vulnerable as they are often required to work alone. Whilst serious incidents are thankfully rare, a survey conducted by PPSS1 showed that 30% of estate agents have been victims of verbal abuse, 16% have felt intimidated and more than 1 in 10 have been threatened during a viewing.

lpc living logo

What is clear from studies such as this is that no matter what area of the property industry you work in, lone workers are always vulnerable and need protecting – but worryingly many organisations are not adequately doing so.

Over half (51%) of respondents to a recent Inside Housing study2 believe their employer is not always doing enough to protect them. The same was found in the PPSS study 1 , which again highlighted that 51% of agents do not have a lone worker policy or provide personal safety training to their employees. Read more

Martin & Co Property Management

Martin & Co have launched the StaySafe Business App and surrounding monitoring service to provide peace of mind to their lone working agents.

Martin and Co logo

The StaySafe Business App allows Martin & Co Leeds City & Leeds North to monitor their employees’ safety and GPS location through an online Hub. The employee is able to start a timed session and alert their employer through a number of features if they face any danger.

As an office belonging to the largest letting and property management franchise in the UK, Martin & Co Leeds City & Leeds North rely on their lone workers to provide their award-winning service. Prior to working with StaySafe, Martin & Co utilised a diary system to keep track of employee safety.

However, after undertaking a review of their lone working policies they concluded they needed a more robust system in order to fully meet their duty of care as an employer. Following a two-week trial of the BS8484* accredited StaySafe app and Hub, Martin & Co decided to roll out the solution across their business. Read more

Joscelyne Chase

Estate Agents Joscelyne Chase use the StaySafe Business app and surrounding monitoring service to ensure that they meet their duty of care to their lone workers.

Joscelyne Chase logo

The property industry is one of the first professions many people think of when considering lone worker safety; sadly because of some of the high-profile attacks that have happened to those working alone in the property industry.

For employees at Joscelyne Chase, based in Essex, lone working is a daily occurrence with staff showing properties, carrying out inspections, terminating tenancies and lone working in the office. Read more

Inside Housing: Violence, fear and underreporting

28% of housing employees feel less safe on the job then they did last year.

This statistic comes as part of an Inside Housing Survey of 346 frontline housing workers in the UK. The survey revealed a frightening culture within the industry where many feel unsafe and unprotected.

Aggression and violence has been an issue in the housing industry for a long time. Housing staff tend to work closely with their clients, often in closed-door situations. Their roles may include delivering bad news to tenants, such as eviction, or working with at risk members of the public. Lone working is also common, leaving staff particularly vulnerable to violence and aggression.

Read more