Our next Tenant Forum takes place on Saturday 11th May and the theme is New Beginnings: A Fresh Start. Read on to find out what Caroline Hardie, who has attended some of the sessions, thinks of them. We would love for you to join us at the next event, and you can find out more and book tickets by going to the forum event page.


Hi Caroline, tell us why you started coming to the Tenant Forums?

I attended the first session because my mum who is also a tenant was experiencing problems with her home. We work full time and found contacting Southway challenging. Seeing a session that was accessible around work was the main draw, and the open-door style approach seemed to work well. 

What do you think of the forums so far?

I can see real growth in aims of the sessions and how feedback from one session seems to be part of the focus for the next forum.

There's a partnership to what’s being discussed. Southway has the topics it wants to cover but staff seem to be genuinely keen to hear, implement and respond to tenants’ views - even when those views aren't positive.

There’s almost an aspect of seeing inside the workings of Southway. I've learned a lot and have a better understanding what Southway wants to achieve and where I as a tenant can fit into that.

Ultimately Southway and tenants want good quality homes, easy access to support and repairs, and confidence that it's a two-way relationship where we're all heard and valued.

What message would you give to tenants to encourage them to attend?

If you think it's not for you, then it absolutely is for you. The more voices, experiences and feedback tenants can give, the more we can make sure Southway works for us. There's no one type of person who should come, if anything we need more variety, so the forum truly represents tenants and advocates for them all.

The staff are really understanding and compassionate. They know it’s nerve-wracking to come to something like this, where you don't know everyone. They’re in the same position and have the added pressure of running the events and responding to our feedback. So, book on, bring a neighbour and enjoy a cup of tea and a good chat!

How do you think the forums could be developed?

I'd love to see tenants setting more agenda items and pushing Southway to focus on what's important to us. We live in these homes, raise our families, and look after the elderly in them. Making sure we can drive change and be informed about how, why and when Southway makes improvements is key.  

Taking the forum to areas under-represented by tenants would help it grow. Hearing what tenants are passionate about and their opinions is vital, and putting our feedback into action is even more important.

How would you like to see Southway develop its engagement work with tenants in the future?

I'd love Southway to make better use of what's available to it, digital versions of Southway Stories, spotlight focuses on social media and a better presence in our communities - especially now the weather is better and Cosy Mondays have finished. A gazebo and some chairs with mini forum sessions held where people live opposed to it just being a "come to the office" event. 

Sharing more information about meetings will help all tenant engagement events seem more approachable and accessible.