Grant's Blog: Our Customer Partnership
On Tuesday 14th March we met in Leicester for the second meeting of the Housing Customer Partnership! The Partnerships is a space for Housing customers to scrutinise our performance as a landlord, help us to make important decisions, and spend some social time getting to know staff and other customers. Here, Grant tells us what he thought about the meeting:
"I want to tell everybody about how good the meeting was so that more people will come next time! It was a really fun and interesting day, and we got to have our say about some important things.
We started by hearing from the Advance Board about the new Advance strategy and it was really good to hear how feedback from us and other customers has made a difference to what is in it. I was really glad that they are going to do more work on inclusion, because that is very important for people with disabilities. In the future we hope more Board members will come to the meetings, maybe a different one each time, so that we can meet them and they can hear straight from us customers.
Julie Layton, the Chief Executive of Advance, told us about how Advance has been planning their budgets and how they are planning to spend and save money. Like for everybody, money is a bit tight right now, but it was good to hear about how what they are planning now will keep Advance strong and safe for a long time. That means that we don’t have to worry about losing our homes or anything like that!
We talk about the scores on the Customer Scorecard, which show us how Advance is performing. It’s important because we can see in numbers how well they are doing at different things and it’s easier to understand.
We talked about how some of us have not been very happy with Customer Services recently because there are long waits and they don’t always call you back when they say they will. Ian Gilders (Executive Director of Housing) told us that they have hired more people to work in Customer Services and when they are trained up it should get better. We hope that the scores for Customer Services will be better when we look at them at the next meeting.
The scores for health and safety were good, and in the future we might add in more from the Tenant Satisfaction Measures (TSMs). You can find out more about the TSMs by clicking this link or by coming to the next Partnership meeting in June.
Ronan Browne (Head of Tenancy and Leasehold Management) came to talk to us about the Cost of Living going up and what Advance is doing to help customers. Housing Officers and Housing Outreach Workers are helping lots of customers to make sure they are getting all the money and benefits they are entitles to, and there is lots of information on the Advance website on the Cost of Living page.
We were excited to hear about the new Housing Hardship Fund that Advance is going to launch to help housing customers who are struggling. Together we decided how much people can ask for, and how it will be given to them (for example as vouchers). Customers told Ronan about the effect worrying about money has on them and how important it would be that the money gets to people quickly when they need it. The Hardship Fund is going to be open to housing customers from April and Advance will share more information about it when that happens.
After lunch we met Gary Webb, who is running the project to make Advance be better for the environment. We were very excited to learn about the money Advance is getting to make homes in the Midlands need less energy (you can read about that here [link]), and work they are already doing in homes in Cornwall! We told Gary that we really care about the environment and that worrying about it can be very stressful. Gary asked us 2 questions, you can click on these links to see our answers:
Next time we meet we are going to go to Market Harborough, where there is lots of Advance homes so we hope that lots of people will come along. The Partnership is fun! And it is a really good way to make a different and have your voice heard."
The next meeting is on Tuesday 13th June in Market Harborough – we hope to see you there! If you have any questions about the Partnership, or how we can help with travel expenses, please email CustomerEngagement@advanceuk.org