This year at Southway, Inspired by Our Communities (IBC) has become a way of working that runs through all of our services.
Consultation feedback from the STAR and IBC Surveys in 2020 & ‘21 has been used to shape the way we’re working in lots of different areas. To refresh your memory of the results of the IBC consultation, click here.
Here are the projects that have progressed this year:
Customer Service Standards
- You wanted a range of ways to contact Southway – the most popular being phone, email, office visits, and texts.
- You also want to see up-to-date, accurate information on what you can expect from our services, for example, waiting times and response timeframes.
After investing in new staff for the Hub, and forming a new Repairs Planning team, we set improvement targets for responding to enquiries, which we’re pleased to have met. However, some of the improvements we saw were being countered by a higher number of follow-up calls from people chasing updates. To address this, we have reviewed and updated our Customer Care Policy, which includes new Customer Service Standards, which we will share everywhere from our website to call queues. This will help staff to be helpful and transparent about what to expect and when you’ll hear from us next.
We know that phone queues can also be frustrating for busy customers, so we're working on an upgrade to our telephone system which means that, soon, you will be offered the option of a call back, so that you get to speak to the right person without having to wait on the phone.
Dealing with Damp, Mould and Condensation
- This was the primary repair type that you wanted us to look at
- You wanted us to reduce the waiting time for inspections
- Some residents reported that while we do attend to address the issue, there is often no permanent resolution, and it comes back.
In the UK, we have a problem with damp and mould in homes. The cost-of-living crisis could make it even harder for people to properly heat and ventilate their homes, making the problem worse. We don’t want anyone to have to live with this problem. That is why we have reviewed our approach to make sure that we offer a responsive, customer-friendly, health and safety-focused service.
We have brought together a group of staff and external specialists to look at our process, communication, and training and to learn from good practice. We have taken the time to consider why homes have damp and how we can deal with the root causes.
As a result, we are:
- Issuing simplified advice on how to avoid condensation, damp, and mould.
- Introducing more detailed questions as part of the repair-booking process. This includes requesting photos and videos upfront to make sure we understand the issue and cause sooner. This will help us get the right type of tradesperson out to the job the first time, reducing waiting times for inspections and work.
- Trialling new approaches, and remotely monitoring the effect on property damp levels with smart technology. We’ll keep you updated on the results of this and how it will be used to shape our overall approach.
- Reviewing the way we communicate with you when you have a repair; we will do more to keep you updated on where things are up to, as well as contacting you after the repair, to make sure the solution has worked.
- And we’ve trained staff so that they can recognise damp and mould, understand the impacts, and better diagnose the issue when first reported.
We’re ensuring the work we do meets the Housing Ombudsman’s recommendations. Our Tenant Scrutiny Panel are reviewing our work so that it has customer input. If you’d like to be involved, please make sure your contact details are up to date so we can contact you, or get in touch with us.
Cost of Living Crisis Support
In 2021, tenants reported growing concerns about managing finances, finding secure work, and accessing the latest information and advice on money in an ever-changing environment. We were also asked to work closely with partners to offer more help.
We are aware that the concerns expressed will have only deepened over recent months. We have launched a new Cost of Living group who have been working on a campaign to bring you up-to-date advice on making your money go further. This includes:
- A new Cost of Living Support Hub
- A Cost of Living Support Pack, which is included in the latest issue of Southway Stories
- Our Living Well Fund is now up and running
- A regular programme of free employment courses and jobs fairs
- Winter Warmth Packs
- Upcoming Winter Warmth events
- Cosy Community Mondays – weekly warm space community events at Southern Gate
This is all in addition to the free and impartial support Southway tenants can get from our Advice Team. To access this, contact us. To receive the latest information and advice about money, follow us on social media and make sure we have your current contact details.
Green and Public Space Concerns
Dog fouling was reported to be getting worse on some Southway estates. People also commented that grass-cutting on estates happens inconsistently, which can lead to them becoming an eyesore.
We’re providing extra dog bins at several sites, and have displayed posters reminding owners to clean up after their dogs. It was found that a small number of dog owners were not cleaning up, so the Environment Team worked with the ASB Team, Tidy Britain Group, and Manchester City Council’s Compliance Team to deal with these individuals. In some cases, on our estates, the grass is not under our maintenance but we are monitoring grass cutting, with most of our sites being cut fortnightly.
If you’re passionate about your environment and want to get involved with green initiatives, we’d love to hear from you.