This week Adam (Customer Co-chair of the Advance Collective) and Rachel (Customer Engagement Manager) shared their expertise at the National Housing Federation’s event for early adopters of Together with Tenants.
Presenting on ‘Hearing the voices of tenants with disabilities’, Rachel and Adam spoke about the challenges and triumphs we’ve experienced, and the tools we use to make sure that involvement is meaningful for everyone.
Speaking about the impact of valuing customer voices Adam said, “Co-production & service user/ Customer involvement within Advance is absolutely vital, because we know first hand the difficulties other customers with mental health issues and disabilities may face in housing. We find it easy to empathise with the barriers of anxiety, altered perceptions, confusion, physical health issues, and how these issues can sometimes mean we are forgotten, ignored, seen as a problem rather than customers. We have all faced stigma and can feel judged, looked down on, it can be hard to build trust between customers and professionals. Being involved in volunteering for Advance, assessing services, sitting on panels and partnership meetings is important for many reasons, it helps build trust, self esteem, confidence.
Real co-production produces better services because it pairs the customers’ experience of what works and does not work for them, what has been useful and what has not, with the professional knowledge of Advance personnel whether it be a director of housing, or a housing support officer. It produces better, more empathic and responsive services. It improves service outcomes. It can give a sense of routine structure, and it makes us believe that Advance cares about our wellbeing, they value and respect us, even though we can't contribute to society in quite the same way. For me, it’s helping massively with my recovery and I have seen the same thing in others I work alongside with. ”
You can learn more about Together with Tenants on the National Housing Federation website. For information or questions about how we work with customers at Advance contact Rachel Fox at CustomerEngagement@advanceuk.org