As a Gateway organisation, we’re committed to working in close partnership with our residents. We have a number of channels for in-depth discussion of how we can deliver high-quality services. Listening to your feedback and ideas helps us to adapt and grow to meet the needs of all of our residents.
This year, we introduced new ways of collaborating with residents on important aspects of our service. These have allowed us to refine how we work, enhance our contracts with suppliers and look at how we can make improvements for the future.
Evaluating our processes
Scrutiny of our services takes place with a different focus each year. In 2018/19, the resident scrutiny group focused on our ‘welcome and settle’ process – what happens when a tenant first moves into a property. As part of their work, residents looked at the sign-up process, reviewed policies and paperwork, and played a key role in redesigning the welcome pack new tenants receive.
Resident volunteers also worked hard with staff to procure a new grounds maintenance and cleaning contractor. The tender process for a new contractor is intensive, and involved meetings, travelling to visit potential contractors and making key decisions. Throughout the procurement, the thoughts, advice and feedback from residents was instrumental in making the final choice.
Monitoring services in your neighbourhood
In 2018, we set up a resident inspector programme so that you can give feedback about your communal block and the grounds maintenance near your home. Although we have Estates Officers who maintain your neighbourhood, asking residents to report how contractors are performing helps us to better monitor the service.
Resident inspectors check the condition of the most recent cleaning or grass cutting carried out by our contractors, then feed back to us using a scorecard. Our work with resident inspectors gives us the chance to receive regular and accurate reports of the service you receive.
Your tenant representatives
Three new people joined the Gateway Membership Team as your representatives within the organisation. As a result, the group now represents a wider variety of the voices that exist in our communities. To further their skills around the important work they do, representatives from the Gateway Membership Team attended a two-day conference about tenant engagement.
The Gateway Membership Team has continued to deliver for residents. In 2018/19 there were four Tenant Question Time events, on topics such as parking, repairs and Universal Credit. Team members have also volunteered their time to hold meetings, attend away days and work closely with Watford Community Housing’s Group Board and leadership team to ensure residents’ voices are heard.
Mazie Gibson, who has been actively involved with our work since we were formed in 2007, stood down from the Gateway Membership Team after nine years of dedicated service. Mazie is a keen supporter of the Community Gateway model for housing associations and served as Chair of the Gateway Membership Team, as well as Chair of the Independent Living Sheltered Housing Forum. She has also worked tirelessly to represent tenants on a national level, including being one of 50 social housing residents who made up the National Tenant Council in 2010, helping to give tenants a voice and steer national housing policy.
A word from the Gateway Membership Team
“It has been a busy year for the Gateway Membership Team as we continue to work closely with Watford Community Housing to make sure that tenants’ voices are heard. We have strengthened our relationship with the organisation, getting involved with staff on major projects that affect residents’ lives and attending workshops with the Group Board to help shape the organisation’s plans for the future.
“We feel that Watford Community Housing are working hard to improve services for tenants and we are particularly pleased to see their commitment to building more homes for social rent. This is something we have been calling for as we believe it is important that homes are made available at the lowest rent level for those who are most in need, so we are really glad they have responded.
“Our Tenant Question Time events have continued to provide residents with the chance to discuss any concerns they have directly with senior members of staff, and we have raised issues around Universal Credit, helping to make sure that tenants have the support they need when they are signing up.
“We also contributed to Watford Community Housing’s response to the government’s Green Paper on social housing, and to the National Housing Federation’s Together With Tenants consultation. By giving our views, we have been able to play a part in influencing how social housing is viewed by the government and across the country, encouraging people to put tenants first.”