Service is FISH-ing for compliments

Ilham Abou-Rahme, manager with Mallows Company, Jackie Attfield, benefit services manager with Community Law Service, Kayleigh Dans, who works at FISH, and Mo Baker, head of customer and support services at Wellingborough Homes

Ilham Abou-Rahme, manager with Mallows Company, Jackie Attfield, benefit services manager with Community Law Service, Kayleigh Dans, who works at FISH, and Mo Baker, head of customer and support services at Wellingborough Homes

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A pioneering support service for Wellingborough residents has earned the housing provider which set it up a place in the final of a national award.

The FISH (Free Impartial Support and Help) shop, which has helped local people conquer £7.5 million of debt, has earned Wellingborough Homes a place on the shortlist for Campaign of the Year at the UK Housing Awards.

The awards, which recognise outstanding work by housing organisations to improve the lives of people in their communities, are organised by the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) and Inside Housing magazine.

Mo Baker, head of customer and support services at Wellingborough Homes, said: “We are delighted to be shortlisted for this prestigious award.

“We launched FISH to give support to those who need it most and over the last year we have gone from strength-to-strength and exceeded our expectations.

“Being shortlisted recognises all of the hard work which has been put in, not just at Wellingborough Homes, but by all of our partners at FISH who have been fantastic.”

FISH was set up by Wellingborough Homes two years ago on Cambridge Street to provide practical support to people on everything from financial problems to finding a job. And in two years the organisations based at the FISH shop, which include the Community Law Service, The Mallows Company and Women’s Aid, have dealt with more than 18,000 individual inquiries.

As well as helping to conquer £7.5 million in debt, they have also helped people claim £5.3 million in unclaimed or unfairly cut benefits, won more than 1,000 disputes, appeals or tribunals and represented residents at housing hearings.

More than 750 local people have also been helped into training and employment since the launch of the FISH shop thanks to The Mallows Company, which operates on behalf of the National Careers Service, and Working Links.

CIH chief executive, Grainia Long, said: “As ever, the quality of the entries we received this year is evident from the fantastic standard of the finalists. I’d like to congratulate all of the organisations that have been shortlisted and wish them best of luck for the ceremony – win or lose their work will help inspire us all to improve‎.”‎

Stuart Macdonald, editor of Inside Housing, said: “The quality of the entries rose again this year so even to get this far is an amazing achievement. In the face of some really stiff competition, Wellingborough Homes has shown it is performing at the highest level.”

Wellingborough Homes are up against five other housing providers in the category and the winners will be revealed at a ceremony at the Lancaster London Hotel on Tuesday, April 29.