Byker Community Trust (BCT) housing association has formed an innovative partnership to help residents influence the way services are delivered on the iconic Grade II* listed Byker Estate.

The partnership, which has secured funding worth £129,000, is believed to be the largest awarded to any housing association in Northern England as part of a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP).

The two-year partnership with Newcastle University is focused on investigating how housing associations like BCT can best engage and involve residents to provide services that are of value to them. It is supported by Innovate UK, the UK’s innovation agency, and the Economic and Social Research Council.

The partnership will build on the successful Byker Approach, an innovative housing management model which BCT has developed to successfully engage with residents. Last year, BCT won the outstanding innovation category at the Chartered Institute of Housing North East awards, recognising the organisation’s innovative approach to delivering services, reducing costs and improving services for its residents.

BCT has appointed Lisa van Heereveld, 24, to lead the partnership. Commenting on her appointment, she said: “The partnership will be a great opportunity to analyse and apply ground-breaking academic research to a North East housing association. Having recently completed my MSc in Innovation, Creativity and Entrepreneurship at Newcastle University, I am excited to continue work with the university in a way that benefits the Byker community as well as BCT as an organisation.”

Academics from Newcastle University will support the partnership with expertise based on the most up-to-date research about community engagement and innovation in the services sector. One of the specific areas the project will look at is ways in which BCT tenants and residents can contribute their own ideas and shape the service delivered by the Housing Association.

Dr Eleftherios Alamanos, Researcher and Degree Programme Director of BSc Marketing at Newcastle University, said: “We are excited to be working with Lisa, BCT and partners on this innovative project. It is one of the few KTPs that investigates the social and economic impact of community engagement.

“The project will help a not-for-profit organisation like BCT not only co-create value for its customers by identifying and satisfying their needs and expectations; but also reinvest into and support Byker communities.”

Jill Haley, Chief Executive at Byker Community Trust, said: “The Knowledge Transfer Partnership will enable BCT to work with residents to innovate the services it offers them. This can lead to the creation of a culture where residents can influence the services provided to them, whilst housing associations can deliver more cost-effective solutions that are of genuine benefit and interest to residents and the community.

“With the academic expertise of partners from Newcastle University and the in-house knowledge of the BCT team, we are looking forward to producing ground-breaking research which may benefit the housing sector and can serve as a great case study for other housing associations.”

“Lisa will be a great addition to the team and we look forward to seeing the improvements and the impact this research will have on the Byker community.”