REX comes to Scotland

Comparing and sharing ideas and developments with housing associations from other nations drives innovation.

We were pleased to have the opportunity to showcase our pioneering developments in older persons living and tackling fuel poverty when we welcomed fellow members of the REX Group to Edinburgh at the end of November.

The Rex Group is an international group of housing associations, including Places for People, formed to carry out research and exchange on matters related to organisational management, service delivery, performance and quality measuring. We meet periodically as a steering group and commission various pieces of work to be carried out by Task Forces made up of staff from the member organisations.

There was a packed agenda for the two-day event which was attended by representatives from housing associations across Europe. It included a site visit to the headquarters of Sunamp in East Lothian, and to Fortune Place, our innovative and award winning affordable housing development for people over the age of 60. The group also heard from Alister Steele, chair of Our Power, the Scottish based not-for-profit energy supplier owned by social housing providers, community organisations and local authorities that aims to cut fuel costs by reinvesting in the communities it serves.

Sunamp manufactures heat batteries based on non-toxic phase change material that have transformed how homes generate heating and hot water and have cut fuel costs for over 2000 housing association residents across Edinburgh and the Lothians thanks to funding from Scottish Government's Local Energy Challenge Fund. Sunamp heat batteries efficiently store heat energy using low-cost, off-peak electricity, or 'free' electricity from Solar PV. They release the heat when needed to provide hot water or home heating, all without the need for an immersion heater or hot water tank and have provided us with a unique and valuable bridge between legacy heating systems using gas boilers and zero-carbon heat from solar and heat pumps.

Fortune Place is a new concept in independent living for older people that has wellbeing and community at the heart of its design. The homes cater for different and changing needs to enable people live at home contentedly for as long as possible. Garden spaces encourage outdoor activities and Big Lottery funding gave us a member of staff to manage a diverse programme of activities including Tai Chi classes, art therapy, digital skills and individual therapies such as podiatry. All flats benefit from installed WIFI so tenants are online from the moment they move in. Each flat has either a private balcony or patio and there are two large enclosed and secure shared gardens. 

Richard Jennings, Managing Director

"Membership of the REX Group is invaluable for driving innovation and best practice in our own organisation. As well as strands of research carried out by the task forces, we learn so much rubbing shoulders with others facing the same challenges, and even to come away with the spark of an idea can be transformational. 

"We were delighted to host the group's visit to Edinburgh was eye-opening. Fuel poverty and finding ways for our growing population of older people to live well is high on everyone's agenda. Castle Rock Edinvar is driving innovation in both areas and we were able to show how we have used technology, our holistic approach to place making and how we have pioneered a future-proof dementia-friendly model for older persons housing."


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