More than just a day job

Tuesday 25th of October 2016

Emily-Rae Maxwell, the Policy and Participation Team Leader at Dacorum Borough Council shares another diary entry in their journey on in using the new Tpas Tenant Engagement Standards.

The Tpas Engagement Standards emphasise the importance of getting the right resources in place for effective engagement. For me, this cannot be achieved without having right team on board.

I am lucky enough to have three dedicated housing involvement officers within my team. For Jenny, Steph and Sharon, tenant involvement is more than just a day job. Along with their skills for delivering tangible outcomes, the fact they are ‘peoples’ people’ is what puts the heart into our service.

Tenant involvement often means asking people to share their personal experiences with us. In the past month alone we have engaged with our tenants about topics such as social isolation, financial inclusion or people’s ability to maintain their home.

The enthusiasm for tenant involvement that Jenny, Steph and Sharon have is infectious and ultimately is what makes people want to give up their time and share their story.

We spent the summer building better relationships with our tenants and leaseholders and encouraging them to have their say. We received twenty three applications to our Tenant and Leaseholder Committee and over a hundred and thirty new people are interested in other involvement activities.

Building on this momentum, we have seen the launch of a number of initiatives. These projects are centred on improving engagement and, more widely, community development.

It is the team’s ability to spot an opportunity and create partnerships that has led the launch of ‘digital skills’ workshops in our supported housing schemes.  

Through conversations with tenants about the local community we are now creating an equality and diversity forum. My team pushed for this to be taken further, recognising this was a topic that meant a lot to our tenants. We now run equality and diversity workshops for our tenants based on the learning we as a department gained in working towards the CIH equality and diversity charter.

We have sixteen young people who have established themselves as their own committee and taken on the task of promoting support services for young people at risk of homelessness. They are taking part in a number of intergenerational projects and over the next year will be exploring the history of housing in Hemel Hempstead.

Tenants living in supported housing are in the process of co-commissioning for a new Community Alarms Service.

Our local volunteer centre is supporting us by ensuring we have a robust volunteer management policy.

And finally, we have a brand new top level committee of tenants, leaseholders, independent residents and an elected councillor as chair. The purpose of this committee is to steer the direction, monitor performance and track the progress of the housing service against our four tenant involvement commitments.

None of what I have listed has required a huge budget. It is the commitment of the council to ensuring tenant involvement is at the centre of our service through the investment in these three officers.

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