On Saturday 17th June, we held our ‘Your Southway, Your Say’ Tenant Voice Roadshow at our offices in South Manchester.
This event was part of our renewed commitment to making sure that tenant voices run through everything we do, in a way that works for everyone in the community.
We wanted everyone who came along to have the opportunity to share how they felt their voice could make a difference in the key issues facing our tenants and communities. Therefore, the event was run by an independent facilitator with a focus on listening to establish what more we can do to elevate tenant voice and generate fresh ideas for engagement.
The programme included practical bite-sized briefings and workshops on the changes in the sector, best practice, and the key challenges both tenants and providers face. There were also ‘Our Story’ sessions, where existing engaged tenants could showcase the impact made by their involvement.
What was discussed?
35 tenants broke into smaller groups to answer the following questions, set by the facilitators.
- What priorities do you have for Southway to involve tenants and shape services?
- How do we ensure we hear the voices of all tenants?
- How could Southway demonstrate that they are really listening and acting on the tenant voice?
- How could tenants shape service standards and then visibly monitor how Southway is delivering the standards?
What were the findings?
The feedback we received covered some key recurring themes, including:
- Improvements to our Repairs Service, including more open communication and a recruitment drive to hire more tradespeople.
- Customer access; we know it’s frustrating when contacting us isn’t as easy as it should be. Improvement ideas included a chat function on website.
- Expanding on pre-established ways that tenants can get involved e.g. Tenant Scrutiny Panel or a tenant-only Trustee Board, with more opportunities to attend drop-in sessions beyond 9 to 5, Monday to Friday.
- Clearer, more realistic
- response times and transparency around service standards.
- Sharing more frequent communications about our customer-facing staff e.g. Neighbourhood Officers, so people in the community know who they are.
- Our Damp and Mould process
- Improvements to internal communication and accessibility in external communication e.g. different formats, languages, alternative text on images.
- Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion – promoting a workforce that reflects our community, with a fresh focus on respect, dignity and inclusion.
Immediate Action Taken
Discussions on the day included feedback that we’ve been able to action or prioritise straight away.
Recruiting more tradespeople
Like others in the housing sector, our ability to recruit tradespeople has been impacted since the pandemic. But, this month, we had a successful recruitment drive and are pleased to have 13 new operatives starting at Southway. This will support us as we reduce our repair backlog and waiting times. If you’re interested in working at Southway, you can see our vacancies and sign up for notifications at Jobs and Careers.
Understanding our current involvement opportunities
Tenants wanted to better understand the ways they could get involved and the responsibilities of each role. The Get Involved area of the website outlines all the opportunities at Southway, organised by level of commitment to help you find something to suit you, whether you can spare an hour a week or just want to fill in the occasional survey.
Form issues on the website
We heard that tenants had experienced issues with using our web forms and would like to apologise if this is something that you’ve experienced. We have thoroughly tested the forms on our website to confirm that they’re working. If you’re not sure whether a form you’re using has been submitted successfully, please Contact us including a link to the form.
Knowing how to contact councillors for support
The best way to find your councillor is to search the City Council’s site by Ward – Southway’s core area, where most of our homes are located, are in the Burnage, Chorlton Park, Didsbury West, Withington and Old Moat wards. We’re also going to be updating our Local Offer pages to include local councillor information, alongside Neighbourhood Officers and other local representatives.
Visible presence of Housing Officers
It was important to tenants that we have a visible presence in your community, and that you can get to know your local officers. So, this summer, we’ve reintroduced Neighbourhoods Walkabouts. Our staff also wanted more opportunities to connect with tenants and residents and be able to pick up some practical outcomes, like checking our green spaces or logging visible external repairs and tenancy issues. Our walkabouts are the perfect time to speak to us about your community, find out what we’re doing in your area, highlight any issues and have a chat.
Informative pre-recordings on the hold line
It was useful to hear that tenants wanted us to use the hold lines to share more information. This is something we’ve recently started to introduce and will be doing more of using the topics and services that we know you want to hear about the most.
Here's what you can expect over the coming months:
Tenant Voice Action Plan
All of the feedback we received on the day is being turned into an action plan so we can track and keep you updated on our progress.
Second Tenant Voice Roadshow
We’ll be holding another Tenant Voice event this September, where we will provide you with an update on the things we’ve done since the first time we met in June. It will also be an exciting opportunity for you to influence the feedback we give to the Regulator of Social Housing on their new Consumer Standards consultation.
Tenant Board Vacancies
If you know you want to get involved in a significant way, we currently have vacancies on our Parent Board and People and Places Committee for Southway tenants who are passionate about creating positive change. Find out more and apply here.
Meaningful tenant engagement in our decision-making has a positive ripple effect on the services we offer, and the individual lives and overall wellbeing of our communities. We look forward to strengthening the tenant voice, in partnership with our tenants.