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The Chartered Institute of Housing is the independent voice for housing and the home of professional standards

What have you learnt today?


To tie in with Adult Learners’ Week and our 'Learn with us' campaign, we caught up with resident Stina Foxford, an Helena Partnerships resident, who has successful completed CIH’s Active Learning for Resident’s (ALfR) scheme. Here she shares her diary over the last year of learning.

What is ALfR?

CIH’s Active Learning for Residents programme offers qualifications to residents in recognition of the skills they gain while working to enhance their communities. It is a flexible scheme that enables participants to tailor their learning to their surroundings, to work at their own pace and reflect on their life challenges and successes. Learners are offered support from a mentor and are encouraged to shape their learning around their own experiences.

CIH has been working with the Airport Group, an alliance of 14 stock transfer organisations in the North West and Pennines for a couple of years to support learners through ALfR. The Airport Group’s programme was a recent finalist in the Excellence in Working Together category of the TPAS Awards. At a recent event to celebrate the success of active tenants who work with the Airport Group, we caught up with Stina Foxford, a tenant of Helena Partnerships, who wanted to share this diary of her experiences as an ALfR participant.

Stina Foxford

Stina, 41, lives in Gillars Green, Eccleston, St Helens and has been a tenant since Helena Partnerships was formed. She has volunteered for Gillars Green Community Group and is a member of the Tenant Involvement Monitoring Group and a member of its Diversity Forum.

This blog charts her perspective on life as an ALfR participant.

28 February 2011

Today I had an initial meeting with my brilliant recogniser [mentor] Joanne McMahon from Helena Partnerships. I also met another learner and her recogniser. I felt a bit apprehensive, but also motivated and excited. I was keen to learn more about the community around me and also get recognition for the work I already do.

We started to look at how I am involved in my community and what I’ve learnt from it.

6 May 2011

I finalised my first submission with my recogniser. It was great to know that I was now halfway through the course.

19 May 2011

Began working on the second submission which is all about the diversity of the community in which I live. This time I felt more confident having more understanding on how to go about it.

I collated a lot of information by interviewing people in my community from a variety of backgrounds. I also worked with Helena staff to understand the range of people and types of homes in my community.

I really enjoyed doing it and I wanted to learn as much as possible.

18 July 2011

Second submission done! Before embarking on the final submission, I think I deserve a holiday.

I agreed with my mentor I’d take a bit of time off to recharge my batteries.

18 August 2011

Third and last submission started! This one is all about how Helena’s services, and the services of other organisations, make a difference in my community.

I absolutely enjoyed studying and finding out what is actually out there for the communities to benefit from. It’s difficult to get hold of people due to the holiday season – but I’ll keep going.

I’ve been endeavouring to share what I have learnt in our Community Group wherever and to whomever needed. It’s been great that this qualification has given me the chance to interview so many managers and other staff.

I have been on a journey of discovery and I am glad I worked so hard during it. Otherwise I would not have seen the bigger picture or appreciated what is available for the communities.

19 September 2011

The last submission done! I’m so relieved, tired and happy to have managed to do the entire course.

2 May 2012

It feels a long time since I finished the Community in Action course. However, I’ve noticed that I learnt to observe situations more closely and think about issues from a wider perspective. My confidence in dealing with people has grown and I enjoy taking on new challenges.

I am due to start another CIH course soon, this time in resident scrutiny, which I am looking forward to.

If you want to know more about how CIH helps people to achieve their potential, or to discuss Active Learning for Residents call Rich Warrington on 07826 550 472 or contact

What have you learnt this week?

Connect with us on Twitter - #LearnWeek - and share what you have discovered this week.

@AbiDaviesCIH - Yesterday I learnt that centenarians are the fastest growing age group in our population. Challenges for health and housing! #learnweek

@JohnPMorrisFCIH - The harder you work, the luckier you get #learnweek #housing

@cihhousing New campaign to shine a light on learning in time for Adult Learners Week - Read Kathy Hanson's latest blog #learnweek


Adult Learners' Week
CIH's Learn with Us Campaign

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