21 Mar 2022

How's your 2024 vision?

It’s often said that 2020 vision is perfect. A normal balanced state of affairs. Sharpness.

But how’s your 2024 vision? How do you meet the requirements of tenant involvement and engagement in a clear, balanced, and sharp fashion? What do your Tenant Satisfaction Measures look like?

There are so many challenges out there when it comes to involvement and engagement. How do we capture the interest of tenants and residents? How do we keep them engaged and in what format? More importantly is how do we hear the silent voice – those who don’t engage at all. There’s no one-size-fits-all package you can just take from a shelf. No training session will give you all the answers. Every resident has a different need from the next. Do we communicate involvement in a way which is also clear and understood? Perhaps you need an interpreter function on your website. Maybe you need more graphics to assist those that struggle with written text. Either way it’s vital that we all take action now to ensure we are ready to meet the requirements of the Social Housing White Paper.

How you prepare for such changes, if you need to at all, is again as complex as your resident demographic. No-one should be left standing when it comes to communicating your involvement offer. Perhaps it starts with your staff teams and management establishment as, after all, it’s going to be they who deliver the vision. Yes, that’s the entire team. One team. We know that it will naturally be led by the tenant involvement and engagement department, in conjunction with the senior staff, but everyone has a part to play in this. And everyone will be judged on your performance, as will the establishment in its entirety. We know that accountability plays a huge part in the way forward, and with that accountability comes respect. Listening to the “lived voice of experience” of your residents is vital to success.

One of the biggest challenges is that of erasing years of social stigma about social housing. We shouldn’t all be tarred with the same brush, and the media has a role to play here in its portrayal of residents from a social housing background. Does this in itself prevent engagement?

And publishing clear and understandable KPI’s and league tables may help residents hold their landlords to account, providing additional transparency but they need to be clear and understandable.

The effective handling of complaints, maintaining building safety, keeping properties in good repair, respectful engagement, and neighbourhood management is plenty to be juggling with, so let’s start building those relationships now. Let’s look forward and really scrutinise our offers and housing stock. By working with the RSH, Housing Ombudsman, professional bodies and, above all, residents to ensure that we not only comply, but exceed requirements.

Written by Steve Southwell

Steve Southwell is chair of the residents panel at Worthing Homes.