The Brief

Nehemiah United Churches Housing Association was established in 1989 as a direct result of the Handsworth riots and the increasing need that was emerging within the African-Caribbean community. Many who had emigrated to the midlands in the 60’s were ageing and finding that the family support networks they grew up with were not there, as a result they were struggling to manage in their older years.

Over the last 25 years Nehemiah has grown steadily, remaining true to its vision and strongly held faith based values, establishing itself as one of the very few independent BME specialist providers in the country.

Nehemiah received notification that one of their houses along with interviews from the tenant and local authority was due to be featured in an investigative TV programme.

They requested support from CleeCo to manage the media relationship and limit any negative publicity for Nehemiah.

The Approach

CleeCo started liaison with the media within an hour of being contacted by Nehemiah to establish an understanding of the story and any potential risk to Nehemiah’s reputation.

The concerns in the story were serious and posed a risk to Nehemiah’s reputation to be associated with them. The exact content based on Nehemiah’s property and the tenants comments were difficult to define. While CleeCo worked to establish this they recommended immediate steps Nehemiah could take to mitigate any negative news, communications to manage stakeholder involvement and internal investigations to support the hunt for evidence and information.

Daily updates were supplied to Nehemiah to keep them fully informed of all activity and any new developments from press monitoring. This also acted as the formal sign off and record of all actions and formed part of the internal log of how the risk was managed.

After liaison with the media, staff who had been present at filming and reviewing evidence from other sources CleeCo formed an opinion of the level of risk and presented this to the Chair of Nehemiah and the executive team.

CleeCo recommended a strategy to manage the risks which included of a range of scenarios, prepared responses and actions, key messages, spokesperson recommendations and timings.

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The Outcome

The board received the assurances they needed that the risks were being managed and were fully prepared with agreed actions should they need to respond.

The executive team were prepared for all scenarios and had a considered and supported position should it be needed.

The investigative programme was broadcast some weeks later. Nehemiah was not featured in the programme.

The Client Experience

CleeCo supported Nehemiah in what for us was a very unusual situation that we had very limited experience of dealing with as a small housing association – CleeCo very quickly put a plan in place, based on extensive experience and understanding of the situation to support us in mitigating any possible risk to our reputation.  CleeCo identified the tasks we could carry out ourselves to contain costs and managed the situation calmly and professionally, providing reassurance to the Board and a successful outcome.       


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