Together with... Mary Brown and John Thompson

“I didn’t have great IT skills, so Lisa from the Pop-up Project Programme put me in touch with John who helped me to host my classes on Zoom."

Mary Brown, Phoenix Resident

Our Digital Champions, John Thompson and Nanssi Phillipe, are available to provide mentoring and guidance to support residents with their digital needs. Phoenix resident Mary Brown set up her own crochet group, ‘Mary’s Creative Crochet’, through the Phoenix Pop-up Project Programme and received support to move the group online during the pandemic.

“I didn’t have great IT skills, so Lisa from the Pop-up Project Programme put me in touch with John who helped me to host my classes on Zoom. I had the devices, but I didn’t know what anything meant or how to use them. John would call me each week before the class to make sure I was prepared. We would go through setting up the call and he would help me with any questions I had.”

Mary is now confident hosting her classes online and has used the skills to keep connected with friends and family.

“My advice to anyone struggling with devices is to seek support,” she said. “John’s help has compelled me to keep going during challenging times and to see a way forward. I know I have these skills now, whether that be for volunteering, work or socialising.”

For John, the pandemic presented new challenges when providing digital assistance.

“We couldn’t meet in person which made things difficult, so I supported Mary by talking things through over the phone”, he said. “We had to take into consideration how the Zoom call would appear for people joining on different devices, but we managed to make it work and Mary is doing a great job hosting her classes remotely”.

Cost per home over time

One way of demonstrating Value for Money is to understand our absolute costs and how our costs compare over time with other social landlords allowing for where we are based, and what we are seeking to achieve. The graph below shows our costs per home have decreased over the last 5 years.

Cost per home

The RSH method is a way of calculating cost per home set by the Regulator of Social Housing.

Throughout this report, we’ve highlighted examples where we have achieved value for money.

Some other examples include:

Saving on the Phoenix Flyer

  • Redesigned and reformatted resident newsletters resulting in a £1,800 saving per year and 25,000 fewer polywraps

Asbestos inspection

  • Removed asbestos to avoid need for re-inspections in the future

Future proof

  • Replaced boilers based on age and instead based on energy efficiency and repair history

When we achieve value for money gains, we use them to generate social value. In September 2020, our Scrutiny Panel released a report on social value: what it is, how we get it and why it’s important.

"Social value can be described as the wider non-financial impacts of programmes, organisations and projects, especially on the wellbeing of individuals and communities and of the environment." – Resident Scrutiny Panel Summary Report on Social Value

The Scrutiny Panel made three social value recommendations as part of their review:

  1. Consider adding social value as a subject to the Phoenix Academy
  2. Develop a stand-alone social value report to enhance transparency and show residents how we are developing the local community and improving residents’ lives and wellbeing.
  3. Consider signing up to the Centre for Excellence in Community Investment Board Charter to demonstrate Phoenix’s ongoing commitment to the community.

To create social value, we have:

Food projects

  • Contributed to community food projects in Lewisham by working in partnership with GCDA and Lewisham FareShare Hub. Together, we were able to support on average 1,500 families per week

Digital devices

  • Received a £5,000 donation to reduce digital exclusion and delivered over 140 digital devices to residents which were funded by social value contributions

Community projects

  • Donated £6,700 to food and community projects during the pandemic
  • Continued to invest in our Community Chest

Free training

  • Provided free training as part of social value contributions for staff and residents

Citizens Advice

  • Provided Citizens Advice Bureau surgeries online and made 137 referrals to Citizens Advice Lewisham


  • Received volunteer time and donations from our contractors and partners to support with community events

Phoenix Community Housing, The Green Man, 355 Bromley Road, London SE6 2RP.

Phoenix Community Housing Association (Bellingham and Downham Limited) is a Community Benefit Society (number 30057R). VAT number 162 4926 03. Regulator of Social Housing registration no. L4505.