A successful recipe for resident engagement
Thursday 25th of January 2018
When Sovereign and Spectrum merged to become a new 56,000-home housing association at the end of 2016, it was the perfect opportunity to create an innovative and unique resident involvement structure. We asked Aasia Nisar, Community Engagement and Scrutiny Manager at Sovereign Housing Association to tell us more.
But, to make sure our residents’ voice was at the heart of our business, we decided they should create the right structure. So we brought together experienced residents from the two former organisations (supported by Sovereign's Board, senior managers and an external expert) to jointly create a new approach.
The result is a structure based on our triangle of involvement.
Our Resident and Board Partnership helps influence our strategy, policies and service standards while the Scrutiny Coordination Group commissions reviews and makes sure scrutiny’s a valued tool for monitoring, managing and developing our services. Our Sovereign Communities are the crucial third element. All three are closely linked to our main Board.
We know residents can make the difference in their neighbourhoods and we wanted to support and harness this enthusiasm, turning it into action that has a wider community impact.
Our new Sovereign Communities groups are all about listening to people on the ground. Made up of Sovereign and other local residents, each group chooses what to focus on. They sign up to our Communities ‘Deal’ and receive funding and tailored support from our Community Engagement team. The aim is for groups to become self-sustaining after three years.
As an example, one of our first groups is the Nelson Road Play Park group in Newport, Isle of Wight. They’ve got active to improve their local area – in particular, the play park, which has been well used but is now tired, and the equipment needs regenerating.
They want to improve safety and reduce vandalism and anti-social behaviour in and around the park. They’re looking at requesting speed restrictions on surrounding roads and prohibiting dog walking and fouling.
They also want to bring back community events, which used to be held in the park, so the space can again become a community focal point.
There’ve been challenges and lots of learning already on this journey. But, by listening to our residents and acting on their feedback, we hope we can continue providing good quality services, great customer experience and supporting strong and resilient communities.