A HOUSING association has been praised by the High Sheriff of Merseyside for the transformation of estates within St Helens.

Ian Meadows said Helena Partnerships had made “a real difference” to the lives of people in the borough and rewarded its efforts to unite the community with a Hidden Gem Award.

He admired Helena’s continued commitment to supporting people into work and training and helping them to make positive changes to their lives.

“When I took on the role as High Sheriff of Merseyside, I knew little about Housing Associations. I quickly realised that Helena’s various partnerships constituted much more than being just a landlord,” said Mr Meadows.

“When visiting the Four Acre estate I saw for myself the enthusiastic partnership between local people, Helena and other organisations to reduce anti-social behaviour.

"I heard from 150 volunteers about how the estate had been transformed, and on a later visit, to the ‘Making a Difference’ Awards Ceremony, it fully confirmed to me that Helena Partnerships is a Hidden Gem for the rest of Merseyside.”

Accepting the award Helena Partnership’s Chief Executive, Rob Young, said: “This is a high honour indeed and is testimony to the many people who work so hard to make St Helens a better place.”