The ART of engagement

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In this blog Stuart Ilsley, Operations Director, writes about what can be learnt from our recently published Annual Report to Tenants (2023-24) and outlines future resident engagement plans.

It can sometimes be hard to keep an eye on the bigger picture and impact of all that goes on at Town & Country Housing (TCH), so the publication of our Annual Report to Tenants (ART) is always a key moment.

The ART, which you can read here, paints a full picture from the past financial year, bringing together all that we do – from development and sustainability to resident engagement and community investment – in one place.

While it’s useful to reflect on what’s gone before and celebrate our successes I’m always interested in the ‘Looking Forward’ sections. These set out our plans for the coming financial year and, importantly, how we can improve support and services to residents.

There’s a continued drive for improvement within TCH and at the centre of this is the shared understanding that residents are at the heart of everything we do.

Whether you believe that statement will, I know, very much depend on your experience of TCH – you may completely agree, completely disagree or sit somewhere between those two extremes.

I’m sorry if you’d had a less than positive interaction but would stress that we really do want to learn from your experience.

There are already lots of ways that residents can make their views heard, from our excellent Resident Scrutiny Panel to our complaints and compliment process and customer satisfaction surveys.

We’ve been doing a lot of work behind the scenes to increase these opportunities for engagement and are very close to launching our new Customer Experience Strategy.  

I don’t want to give too much away ahead of the official launch but the strategy and, most importantly, the action plan that will bring it to life, will look at how we can prioritise the needs and voices of our residents.

There are lots of strands to this work, including: empowering residents in our decision-making processes; openly communicating with residents and being transparent in our approach; listening to feedback and concerns to improve our work; and adapting our strategies to meet the changing needs of our communities.

That last point is a really important element of our approach. Strategy and action plans are great, but they need to reflect the realities that our residents, and TCH, face.

One of the key issues is the cost of living. We know that residents are facing financial pressures in their lives, and TCH is also facing increased costs as a result of rising interest rates, inflation and a host of other issues.

This is why it’s more important than ever that we listen to our residents and work with them to build the homes, support and services that they need.

Placing residents at the centre of our work is not just good practice; it’s a fundamental commitment to the well-being and success of our communities. By actively engaging with and supporting residents we can create a collaborative environment that leads to more effective solutions, stronger communities, and a better quality of life for all.

Together, we can build a future where every resident feels empowered, heard, and valued.

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