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Sir George Earle Trophy winner 2022

Company: Trent & Dove

Achievement: Won the Sir George Earle Trophy in 2022


Background: Trent & Dove is a social landlord employing 210 staff looking after a stock of 6,260 homes, and is committed to “transforming homes, lives and communities”. The enterprise also builds up to 140 new homes each year. 

Result: The RoSPA Awards judging panel noted the organisation’s highly-engaged and driven approach to continually developing health and safety systems that “go above and beyond in pursuit of protecting staff, while positively impacting Trent & Dove’s tenants and their families”. 

Anna Hickman, Head of Health and Safety (People and Property) at Trent & Dove, said: “We were absolutely delighted to be awarded the trophy – a remarkable accolade for a small social housing provider. 

“As a housing association we are very highly regulated, and our board and leaders have an inherent interest in making sure we keep our customers safe. This translates into keeping our staff safe too”. 

Anna points out that the main hazards faced by staff are associated with construction and property maintenance activities, together with the personal safety of frontline staff. There is also a huge commitment to ensuring residents are safe and secure in their homes. 

“Although we know we have strong health and safety systems, we are always striving for better.” This approach is evident in the social landlord’s Health and Wellbeing Strategy – the envy of many much larger organisations. 

“The pandemic highlighted the importance of mental health, but until recently we didn’t have
a cohesive strategy,” explains Anna. “Although we offered healthcare packages and mental health support, it wasn’t done in an evidence-based way.

“Now, we are targeting our resources really well. We gathered and analysed the health data pertaining to our staff, used a ‘workplace health needs assessment’ based on the Public Health England model.”

This data along with sickness absence and occupational health referral data has formed a baseline position from which to target future initiatives. “We understand the current health needs of our people,” said Anna. “We know about their mental health, how much they drink and exercise, how many smoke, how many are likely to be in and around menopause, and so on.  In some cases, we were surprised by the data, for example 78% of our staff reported they had trouble sleeping to a certain extent.”

Areas where Trent & Dove are leading the way include the voice they give to the residents of their properties, including resident participation on the Fire Safety Group.

“With customer input, we recently revised all fire safety information, advice and signage for our customers living in flats.  We developed pictogram-type information on the importance of keeping escape routes clear, and other fire safety information is provided in leaflet form and also on a simple door hanger that we leave in all flats. With customer insight, we recognised we need to be concise and ensure that the information we provide is accessible to all.” 

Other key initiatives include a commitment to partnering with other organisations in their community. For example, Staffordshire Fire & Rescue Service attend the Fire Safety Group as well as supporting communications with residents. 

“This makes sense,” says Anna, who started working for Trent & Dove 18 years ago as a health and safety adviser at a time when the organisation did not have a health & safety team.  “If you are trying to get a message across about fire safety, it’s much easier if you have a person in uniform alongside you supporting your message,” she says. 

Trent & Dove also shares knowledge with its supply chain. “Some companies we work with don’t have their own health and safety teams, so we provide training and support on managing risks such as hand-arm vibration and construction dust, for example.” 

For Anna, winning the top award was the culmination of a personal goal. “The first time I went to a RoSPA Awards dinner where we won our first award, I thought ‘we are going to win the Sir George Earle trophy one day’. That journey has taken us to a place where we continually strive to be the best we can be,” she says. 

“Social Housing is an unsung sector in which thousands of good people are committed to improving the lives of some of the most vulnerable people in society, and it’s great that our win has put social housing on the map and improved its image in the media. I’ve got high standards and I’m proud of that. I want our legacy to be an awareness of the importance of enhanced safety.

“Winning RoSPA awards over the years has certainly helped us in terms of raising the profile of H&S internally. When you start winning, the board becomes even more supportive, so you gain a bit more momentum. In terms of culture, you have to find a way to bring everyone along – from the bottom to the top. The skill is in listening to people as they describe how they work, and explaining the positives behind a suggestion.” 

She says her core belief is that health and safety should add value to everyone. “It should make us more efficient and effective, and it shouldn’t be a burden. We’ve proved all that is possible, and more than 10 per cent of our staff are now engaged as volunteers, either on the health and safety committee or as part of our internal health and safety audit team.” 

Anna insists that their win is evidence that you don’t need to be a large company to excel. “You don’t have to be massive to have an impact,” she says. 

“The first time I went to a RoSPA Awards dinner where we won our first award, I thought ‘we are going to win the Sir George Earle trophy one day’. That journey has taken us to a place where we continually strive to be the best we can be.  - Anna Hickman, Trent & Dove


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