Welcome to my final blog of the year. It’s been a great year for us at Southway, and we’ve really enjoyed working closely with you to improve the delivery of our services. As the year comes to a close, I’d like to use this blog to look towards the future and highlight how your feedback will help to shape the direction that we take over the next five years.
Getting your feedback
This year, we’ve placed a greater focus on tenant feedback and consultation than ever before. We carried out extensive consultation over the summer as part of Together with Tenants and surveys around our Futures Strategy with community groups and centres and via our website.
This feedback helped us refresh our high-level commitment and aims, and to create real actions from what you’ve told us are your priorities.
A starting point
Vision and values are the starting point to create our 5-year Futures Strategy. Our Futures Strategy forms the backbone of the actions we carry out each year. Below I’ll explain how, together, we are shaping our future vision, values and actions (and how you can give us more feedback to refine them!)
Using feedback to shape our VISION
A vision outlines an organisation’s (Southway’s) goal giving purpose to its existence. A good vision statement should be short, simple and specific.
We looked for themes in your feedback and there were some very clear messages, summarised in your quotes below:
“You should be the focal point for the community. Encourage people to get involved and offer reasonably priced activities e.g. exercise for older people.”
“More families and people involved in environmental projects. Provide life skills and youth clubs.”
“Bring communities together more often.”
“Southway should invest in its areas and provide affordable accommodation to all.”
“You should provide family-friendly events to bring the community together.”
“Do more about crime.”
Our proposed VISION
With strong themes around community spirit, increasing opportunities and making better places for you to live, we recognise your calls for us to prioritise the people and places that make up our communities. Earlier this year, our first Social Value Symposium confirmed that we do invest significantly in our communities; however, we realise that effectively communicating with you is vital to ensuring our investments continue to meet your needs. We have used your feedback, in addition to feedback from staff and other stakeholders, and have created a proposed vision for our future.
Our vision for the future is of Thriving Communities:
“Flourishing communities with homes that people are proud of; safe places where people choose to live, work and play and feel that they belong.”
Tell us your thoughts about “Thriving Communities” as a Vision for Southway;
Using feedback to shape our VALUES
Values show an organisation the kind of culture they need to uphold; we need to live and breathe these values in order to deliver our strategy and actions, which then help us achieve our vision.
A value is not just a word; it means specific behaviours, attitudes and principles that every employee, and the organisation as a whole, should embody.
Your feedback told us what we’re doing well and where we need to improve; as with the feedback on our vision, there were some strong themes around listening, communicating effectively, honesty, keeping promises and working with you and the community.
Our proposed VALUES
When combining your feedback with the results of a large-scale consultation with our staff, we found that the following descriptions appeared time and time again:
It had two clear themes throughout that led us to the following values;
1. (we) Care
What this means to you;
It means we should; Communicate clearly and listen closely. Do what we said we will do. Keep you involved in the way we are run and how our services are delivered. Always have your well-being and needs at the heart of our work.
2. (we are) Successful together
What this means to you;
It means we should work together, listen to you, listen to our partners and staff and we do what is best for you and our communities. We should take actions based on our shared knowledge and skills to deliver the best possible shared outcomes for everyone we serve.
3. What do you think?
We think there should be the third value and are looking for your feedback. To help us create this, we’d like you to answer the following;
What positive aspect of Southway makes us unique for you as a tenant?
Using feedback to shape our ACTIONS
We are now defining our priorities and how they turn in to actions. We’ve taken a good look at all your feedback to help shape the direction of these.
Some big themes to come out of your feedback that need to be included are;
Poverty and food poverty
“(Southway can help) by helping the homeless with places to live and get back on their feet”
“keep doing the food club, groups to teach adults skills, support groups, playgroups, youth activities”
Safety & Crime
“We want a crime-free neighbourhood, safe for our children”
“(We would like to) be in a clean and tidy environment (…) with well-maintained green spaces”
There were also themes (paired with our own targets) around loneliness and isolation, poor health and inequality which will all form our strategic priorities and actions.
Our proposed ACTIONS
One simple example from your feedback we’re already planning is around poverty; you acknowledged we already do a lot around poverty, and had a lot of opinions and ideas on how we could develop our approach;
“Families with children need more opportunities for the kids to be entertained, especially in school holidays.”
“Continue with the Quids-In Clubs, keep the advice services and offer support to young families.”
“Keep food clubs going. They need more social events that are family-friendly. Help young families and single parents. Cooking and lunch clubs”
In direct response to this, one action we have already committed to is carrying out one activity, every week of the summer holidays 2020, to help families with school-age children who are in receipt of benefits. We haven’t planned them all yet and will be reaching out for your suggestions in the Spring.
Future Strategy and Actions
We are still planning our full strategy, which will be completed in April 2020. In the meantime, we have begun to work on our commitment to communicate openly and honestly by creating localised webpages. Each of our Local Offer areas has its own specific webpage, which will be updated with how we’re using your feedback to make changes to your area.
I hope this blog has shown how central you are to everything we do here at Southway. We are fully committed to working as closely with you as possible, to deliver our services in the way that you want them. We aim to continue improving our response based on what you tell us about life in your neighbourhoods and how we can help.
Finally, I’d like to say a big thank you for continuing to help us in this crucial way and to wish you a very merry Christmas, and a happy new year from everyone here at Southway Housing Trust.