Tpas at the HOMES conference 2019
Thursday 28th of November 2019
This week our Business Development Manager, Michael Hill has been speaking at the HOMES conference and exhibition in London. Read Michael's blog about his experience of talking engagement at one of the sectors biggest events.
Over the last 12 months, we have been invited to speak at many different arenas on the importance of good resident engagement. The HOMES exhibition at the Excel Arena in London was the next where I was invited on two panel sessions; working with residents to achieve powerful partnerships & Procuring for Quality. The first was one would be easy to discuss but the one that produced the most interesting feedback was the Procurement debate.
Procurement is one of those areas shrouded in mystery, and understanding it is regarded in the same way as finding the Holy Grail. Well, my challenge to the session was to break through the smoke and mirrors and bring into the conversation the primary stakeholders – residents. Many of the panellists discussed the issue of culture change and if I heard the phrase once, I heard it 50 times. How does the culture of an organisation change from a paternalistic, top-down approach to a more collaborative and inclusive one? Total and complete acceptance of the residents’ role and place added to a whole heap of transparency is where it starts – and it must be led from the top.
I was keen to reiterate the message that we working in housing are merely custodians and what we do will have an impact on others for a long time. It is the residents that have been here before us and will probably be here long after we have left. What will be the legacy we leave for those who follow – what will they say about us were my final questions to the audience.
I left that session with a commitment – to work with others to create an ‘Engaging Residents in Procurement’ good practice guide. There were some willing organisations prepared to come together to do this and I will be putting out some information in the New Year with regards to the development of this.
There was plenty of discussion about the stigma of social housing residents too. For my two penn'orths we have to look at some of our unintended behaviours first, one being in our newsletters. Take a look at Landlord newsletters. If all you generally see are enforcement articles such as ASB, Pay your rent, missed appointments etc. is this a fair representation of the whole, or are you misrepresenting the majority of residents?
I left the day feeling buoyed that resident engagement was being spoken about throughout the day but even more determined to carry on driving home the benefits of meaningful engagement.