16 Sep 2021

Working together to make a difference - East Ayrshire Federation of Tenants and Residents and East Ayrshire Council

There are many things that give a sense of achievement or satisfaction when you are involved in tenant participation and scrutiny work. None more so than receiving recognition of this work on a national stage. This was the experience of a group of dedicated and passionate volunteers within the East Ayrshire Federation of Tenants and Residents (the Federation). Their drive and desire to make being a tenant or resident in East Ayrshire as rewarding and positive as possible is second to none. Their past achievements and ongoing projects is a testament to the forward thinking ideas which third sector organisations can bring to the delivery of Council services.

'Let’s make a video' they said… 

In theory, how hard could it be? Present a topic for a tenants’ information video, design a story board, formulate a plan of how recording will take place, edit and launch. In normal times, not something that would pose too much of a challenge, but during a global pandemic?

Pretty quickly, it was apparent that there would need to be some bespoke ideas and solutions. A number of brilliant and practical minds were involved and the process was made simpler. Mac, Lynn, Karen, and Fran from the Federation along with Susan from the Tenant Information Service and Lucinda from Vibrant Communities grabbed the opportunity to really make this a project led by tenants. The subject? ‘The Tenancy Agreement’ which is the legally-binding contract between a landlord and tenant. This agreement is the reference point for much of what is discussed by housing colleagues and tenants – roles, responsibilities of the tenant and the landlord.

In the end, there were many days of filming, 43 voice recordings (while waiting for joiners next door to stop hammering), 23 attempts at video recording (at the behest of noisy traffic and children) and 72 edits (thank you Lucinda!!). We were finally there.

An award, you say?

When we received notification of shortlisting in the ‘working in partnership’ category at the CIH Scotland Housing Awards 2021, I felt extremely proud of the Federation. Not only was the work they do being recognised by others, but this small band had made it onto the national stage. Of course our representative at the awards was decided unanimously and ‘the voice’ Lynn Graham would be, whose calm tones which could grace any radio broadcast and is the star of the video. The ceremony was a huge success and via the remote delivery, the Federation attendees mingled across the virtual tables, sharing stories and making valuable contacts. We wished each other good luck, and waited with a sense of hope for the outcome.

East Ayrshire Federation and East Ayrshire Council were crowned winners and very quickly my earphones were removed as the noise level from our table rose. Lynn delivered a quite brilliant acceptance speech. The Federation have been overwhelmed with the recognition and since receiving the award, have promoted the success on a local and national level. Personally, the most satisfying element was that tenants were the driving force throughout the entire process and not only are tenants at the heart of everything we do… often they are the heart of what can be achieved.

Visit the Scotland Awards 2021 website for more information and to book your tickets to the ceremony

Written by Kevin Hamilton

Kevin Hamilton is the customer liaison officer at East Ayrshire Council. 

Kevin has worked in Housing for over 10 years and strives to encourage tenant participation and scrutiny activities throughout East Ayrshire, working with the East Ayrshire Federation of Tenants and Residents (the Federation) to deliver our vision of empowered communities.