Why we needed to 'get Smart' reviewed

Thursday 9th of November 2017

Emma Gilpin, Neighbourhood Manager at Weaver Vale Housing Trust tells us why they decided to take our 'Smart Review' and tells us about the experience.

At Weaver Vale Housing Trust we were thrilled to achieve the Tpas Accreditation for Resident Involvement back in March 2013.  However, it was a huge amount of hard work and when it came to the 3 year point where we needed to get re-accreditation we just weren’t in the place to do it.  Dare I mention the words ‘rent’ and ‘cut’ in the same sentence, resources were tight!

That said, we remain absolutely committed to involving customers in the decision making, how can we run a great organisation without truly listening to what our customers want and need from us?  So we had a dilemma.  Our Board were keen not to just take our word that we were great – they needed to hear it from an outside, unbiased source.  And that’s where the SMART Review came in. 

Tpas, knowing the pressure we are all under, had already released the National Engagement Standards, a much simpler series of headings and bullet points on what great engagement should look like, a quick read rather than the full 21 units with 99 pieces of criteria to go through.  Perfect timing for us and we were given the go ahead to do it.

What a great process!  In the space of a couple of months we were able to complete a self assessment, arrange some interviews and a couple of focus groups with staff and customers.  In came our Tpas consultant Gill to verify that what we said was true and provide us with a report saying we achieved the standards.  Que huge sigh of relief and much fist pumping!  Even better though, she was able to highlight our areas of excellence which we can now use as a selling point for people to get involved.  We were also provided with lots of ideas in the form of recommendations to get even better, with pointers to organisations doing things really well, so we could do a bit of stealing (sorry, I mean ‘sharing best practice’)!

It was definitely a worthwhile experience.  Why?  Well it’s given our Board assurance we’re doing what we should and shows our customers we mean what we say, are committed to listening to them and that getting involved with us truly makes a difference.  It was a simple process to go through and has given us a framework with ideas to get even better.

We’ve now set up a series of projects as a team to take on board the recommendations to continue to make sure our involvement and engagement is up there with the best… 

We will let you know how we got on in April next year, watch this space...