The Resident Voice Index™ project has involved social housing residents from the start. In the workshops we held during March and April, some of the participants volunteered to help us spread the word about the project and speak about why they think being involved in their neighbourhood is important to them.
Community projects, such as delivering social housing, changing a public space or building new developments should involve those who actually live in a community and could be affected by the changes.
The Resident Ambassadors that have joined us on this project already give a lot of their time to improving their communities and volunteered to share with other social housing residents the impact you can have by getting involved and having your say.
Our first Resident Ambassador
The first Resident Ambassador we are introducing is Graham. He has been directly contributing to his local community by being part of multiple resident boards, a member of his parish council and has been a senior youth club leader for 11 years.
One of the interesting things that Graham found from being a part of housing boards is that members are given the opportunity to “Talk with people at the top, like board members. Sometimes it can take a while to get things done. My housing association has over 60,000 homes across the UK, but normally they’re very good at listening and the changes we go after happen most of the time.”
The importance of community involvement
We asked Graham whether his housing association impacted his local community. He told us that, “It varies; where there are new builds they are very good but sometimes when it is converting older homes it’s not quite so good. One of the biggest problems can be with communication.”
Over the years, for some residents a lack of community involvement might have led to a knock in confidence, but Graham explained how he thinks the shared challenges of the last year might have improved the situation and led to more resident engagement:
“I think last year in terms of resident involvement, we have actually done more than previously. The number of residents involved in focus groups has grown. Previously the meetings were in the head office in London and it meant a lot of travelling. I used to go to all of them by train and the train station is 3½ miles from where I live.” For some people, giving that amount of time might not be possible and this is one reason why increased digital engagement can help to capture more opinions.
Why sharing your opinion matters
“People like to complain,” according to Graham and of course, sometimes have good reason to. “If you complain that’s one way, but by gaining a voice and being listened to, then you can actually change things. Over the years we’ve seen many changes.” For one of the housing association engagement projects, the website wasn’t as good as it could be. Graham explains, “We spoke to staff and those issues quickly got changed – almost overnight.”
For Graham, at the end of the day, “It’s very important to be involved. Being part of a team, we look at the overall picture and we’re able to express what we think is going right and what we think is going wrong. We have seen a lot of what we wanted to improve; services have improved. There’s still problems sometimes, but we’re getting there.”
Thank you to Graham for being our first Resident Ambassador. As you’ll have no doubt heard, we are running our first consultation of social housing residents through the Neighbourhoods & Communities survey. Make sure you have your say by clicking here.
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