Partnering to Make Homes Safer

Aviva and Cowdy real estate have recently formed a partnership which will help some Christchurch renters to better access social support.

As property managers, Cowdy staff sometimes encountered situations that they were uncomfortable with when they went into rental houses. Not knowing the best way to deal with those situations, which have included meeting people who were confrontational or those with obvious signs of anxiety or distress, left some of the team feeling outside their comfort zone.

Aviva was able to facilitate some conversations with the Cowdy Sales and Property Management team around possible scenarios and options; this conversation very quickly proved useful. Janice Cowdy, Director of the Property Management division, says “Catherine, one of our staff, recently had concerns about a client she visited. She asked how things were going and it turned out the client and her partner were arguing a lot more than usual. Having been part of the session with Aviva, Catherine felt comfortable enough to encourage her client to sit down and have a conversation, and to suggest where she could get some support. Catherine didn’t think she would have done that before she’d been part of the conversation with Aviva.”

Having the confidence to reach out is exactly what Aviva was hoping to help build, says Communications Manager Julie McCloy. “For some people, the property manager may be the only person they see or speak to all week. We want to help people feel confident enough to have conversations where they would naturally occur – that could be with your hairdresser, your personal trainer, or your property manager. You don’t have to know all the answers, but be willing to talk and listen, and know where to direct people to. That is how we as a community help people overcome family violence, or other issues in their life.”

Aviva also provided practical resources (e.g. numbers to call, business cards for The Loft, which hosts a range of services, including Aviva) that could be given out to clients, and their Safety in the Field policy, to make home visits as safe as possible for Cowdy staff. In return, Cowdy will support Aviva with regular donations, to enable the organisation to keep offering their free services to those who need them.

“It’s a natural alignment for us” says Janice. “We sometimes see situations within people’s homes that other people don’t. We are not specialists in dealing with this, but if we have the tools to do a little more to help our tenants be safe, we want to know how to do that.”