Healthier Heroes pioneers supported housing strategy with the ActivPanel

Published: June 25th, 2021

Healthier Heroes Case Study

Supported housing has a critical role to play in society, and is often the crucial step in helping homeless people return to the community. However, as an unregulated sector in the UK, the quality of care and service can vary greatly across facilities – which in turn impacts the success rate of residents going on to live independent and fulfilled lives.

With a disproportionate percentage of the homeless population coming from an Armed Forces background, ex-Army Colour Sergeant, Andrew Powell, had a vision for setting a new standard of supported housing provision. One which would not only equip veterans with practical life skills, but also foster a positive environment in which they could learn, develop, and thrive.

This ambition was conceptualised in ‘Healthier Heroes’ a not-for-profit organisation which Andrew established with his wife Rio, with the objective of creating facilities that provide best-in-class support and care for veterans. All they needed to get started was a suitable site…

Returning to his hometown of Burnley, Andrew identified one of Burnley’s most historic buildings, the former town hall, as the ideal place for Healthier Heroes’ flagship centre.

“As part of the redevelopment, careful consideration was given to all the facilities, which include a community hub, training centre, new kitchens, and accommodation. For Andrew, training provision was set to be a key part of support programme delivery: “Learning how to protect health and wellbeing is central to our approach. As is education and training, the building blocks for securing future employment. For us, supported housing needs to equip veterans with life skills and confidence as much, if not more so, than the practicality of accommodation.”

A charitable partnership

With renovations well underway, Andrew’s attentions turned to the training centre, which would be a focal point for the health and wellbeing programme, as well as more formal teaching sessions. When local Promethean partner, Gateway Heyworth Networks Ltd learned of Healthier Heroes’ plans, they immediately looked at how they could support, which led to the installation of an ActivPanel.

“We were originally facing the prospect of an old projector or dry whiteboard, to try and re-engage veterans in their future prospects and learning opportunities. The addition of the ActivPanel was a game changer. As a charity we are reliant on generosity, so we cannot thank Gateway Heyworth Networks Ltd and Promethean enough for providing us access with the latest technology to support learning and development.”

Person centred, technology enabled…

Named Bancroft House in memory of a young Burnley solider who lost his life in battle, the new facility opened its doors to residents in December 2020. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Bancroft House became operational – and the ActivPanel was put to use immediately.

“Despite the challenges of COVID-19, we managed some initial introductory training with Gateway Heyworth Networks Ltd, that enabled us to get started with exploring the ActivPanel’s potential. From here the solider instinct kicked in which is to ‘adapt and overcome’, which meant we learned by doing. Very soon the ActivPanel was being used in virtually every aspect of learning delivery, as well as for more social activities.

Healthier Heroes adopts a person-centred approach to its support which is underpinned by a structured programme which addresses health and wellbeing during daily sessions. Led by Rio, a former teacher, the ActivPanel plays a valuable role in course delivery:

“Having used interactive whiteboards in my previous primary school, I recognise that technology plays a key role in engaging students of all ages. It’s been a great help being able to introduce interaction into health and wellbeing, it’s really encouraged residents to get actively involved and collaborate as a group. The ActivPanel is packed full of features that illuminate learning opportunities, with the writing experience feeling as natural as putting pen to paper. It’s given us access to advanced technology that has opened up so many opportunities for our residents.”

Creating brighter, positive futures

Residents often enter Bancroft House as vulnerable adults with complex needs, including substance addiction and PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder). The Healthier Heroes team work hard to support these individuals with chartering a new path so that they can return to independent living in the community and as active participants in society.

In the training centre, the ActivPanel is proving to be a focal point in the successful implementation of these support programmes.

“During the height of lockdown, the ActivPanel enabled us to bring teachers and coaches into the room through distance learning. Compatible with Zoom, we simply combined the ActivPanel with a web camera and we were all set to maintain support delivery on core topics.”

While the Instant Whiteboard App is a practical resource in English and Maths lessons, Healthier Heroes continue to explore more creative ways to use the technology, as well as develop softer skills sessions.

“The handwriting and graph paper backgrounds make it quick and easy to invite residents up to the ActivPanel and collaborate on tasks. These sessions are delivered by tutors from a local college, so it’s great that we can give them access to modern teaching technology while they are here. More recently we’ve been using the ActivPanel to facilitate creative writing and poetry sessions, which are a very productive and effective strategy for helping residents to explore feelings and develop communication skills,” explains Andrew.

With ambitions to set the gold standard for supported housing, Healthier Heroes is well on the way to achieving its aims. Hosting visits from other healthcare providers seeking to develop best practice, as well as attracting regular media coverage on its successes, Healthier Heroes is not only making a positive difference to the lives of the residents that pass through its doors, it’s creating a blueprint that will hopefully raise the service benchmark in all supported housing facilities UK-wide.

“We set out to drive change, and we are confident that this will be achieved. In every aspect of our operations, from the programmes that we implement, to the accommodation we provide, and the services we deliver – we’re striving to give residents the very best care so that they can go on to live enriched and positive lives. The ActivPanel has very much become a focal point for our programme delivery, and we are very grateful to Promethean and Gateway Heyworth Networks Ltd for the support,” concluded Andrew.

To learn more about the ActivPanel Elements Series, book an online 30 minute demonstration now.