Accessible Engagement

Monday 11th of April 2016

Blog by Kate Newbolt about out of hours engagement.

Increasingly I am working with individual volunteers who are holding down two low paid jobs and are understandably struggling to sustain their involvement. However, some are desperate to stay involved and are trying hard to find a way to keep up with the meetings, training and events scheduled.

Landlords are doing fairly well in trying to establish remote involvement facilities and digital engagement to help overcome this problem. Whilst digital engagement is gaining momentum there are  of course times when face-to-face meetings, training and development sessions are needed. Where digital engagement is working well the face-to-face exceptional sessions are almost always very important so what can those highly committed individuals do when these occasions continue to be held during office hours and almost never at weekends?

As someone said to me the other day, housing services are improving generally and landlords are working well with staff and contractors to develop self-service arrangements for reporting repairs, appointment times and making rent payments. These credible efforts are very much linked to the outcome analysis of customer intelligence gathered and identifying customer needs for out of hour services. Almost all of us passionates who are committed to involvement would agree that access to services that suit those using them should take account of lifestyles and circumstances. We all work really hard to ensure that engagement of residents is representative of the wider resident base but are we as good as we should be at making sure it is really accessible? Are we doing enough?

I'm really keen to hear more views and examples from involved residents and officers who work with residents to improve services particularly where accessibility arrangements have been changed to increase  diversity, representation and engagement. Even better I'd really like to hear about the difference these changes have made to the outcomes achieved for example, are you attracting broader diversity, is there a noticeable difference in the kind of projects you are working on and how is this changing views about the value of involvement in your organisations?

And one final favour, I'd like to ask is whether there are residents reading this who have not been able to keep attending because of the conflicts between scheduling of sessions and other commitments such as work, study, childcare or anything else.

Contact me if you get a minute to spare and share your views with me please!