Posted by: sammycoop | February 13, 2009

Contour Homes’ Tenant Liaison Group

Local Conversation with Members of TLG

Held at Salford Quays on 27th January 2009

Facilitated by Dave Murphy and James Williams

 

The members of TLG undertook their local conversation in the style of a Philosophical Enquiry. The style of this method is as follows and due to the positive feedback received, it is the style we shall use when we try the Philosophical method of engagement.

 

 (1)      FIRST THOUGHTS

We show the TSA’S DVD, which we advise residents that once they have viewed the film we are going to split people into pairs or groups of four and get them to discuss their first thoughts and share them with the whole group.

 

(2)       QUESTION

We then show the group six questions which are listed below and ask them to vote on the question they would like to discuss in depth, in their smaller groups and then share the comments with the whole group. We also advise that the group will have an opportunity to comment as a whole on the remaining questions. This is in addition to putting forward their individual views on the TSA questionnaire which we would like them to complete.

(A)       What are the common views around what makes a good service?

(B)       What are the common ideas around the three best and three worst things that Contour do?

(C)       What services that Contour currently perform should we do differently?

(D)       What are the group’s ideas on what makes a good landlord?

(E)       What could Contour do to improve our services and what are the top 5 things that would really impress you?

(F)       What choices do tenants currently have and what choices would they like to have in the future?

 

(3)       FINAL THOUGHTS

Following the discussion regarding the chosen questions, in small groups, and the sharing of those ideas and opinions with the whole group, we then request that individually or in small groups that people put forward their final thoughts on the question, which may have differed from their previous ideas following their discussions.

 

Below are the findings from the Philosophical Enquiry with the TLG

 

FIRST THOUGHTS

  1. Sounds fantastic but will any action result in this exercise?
  2. How can the tenants be sure either the landlord or the TSA have really taken their views into account?
  3. What makes this exercise any different than previously when our landlord asks for our views?
  4. Sounds like all show and no go.
  5. Are the TSA just going to pay lip service to tenant’s views?
  6. Who is paying for this exercise, it sounds very expensive? Let’s hope it’s worth it, for all our sakes.
  7. Raising the standard is a priority; however rent must be reasonable to avoid the benefit trap.
  8. Let’s hope it works and the TSA do drive up standards but not costs.
  9. Let’s hope all landlords take part and give honest feedback.
  10. The TSA need to take account of what happens locally and ensure landlords do what they say they will do.
  11. Perhaps action will help remove tenant apathy if they see actions can be the result of talking.
  12. Please listen and act upon suggestions, even the ones that you don’t want to hear, do not just go and do your own way anyhow.
  13. Seen it all before, make me believe.
  14. At last!
  15. This is a very ambitious project, are the TSA committed to do it.

 

 

QUESTION

The group chose the following question.

 

(E)       What could Contour do to improve our services and what are the top 5 things that would really impress you?

 

The tenants put forward their top 5 things that would really impress them but asked whether I would put forward their other comments as they believe that they are important for Contour to know.

 

  1. More listening to tenants and give regular accurate feedback.
  2. Increase Resident Involvement Team to enable them to help start up new tenants groups and give support to existing tenants groups like other landlords.
  3. Say what you do and do what you say.
  4. Appointments that are kept for repairs and servicing, with an improved quality of the work undertaken.
  5. Real consultation at the start of the process when the aim of changes is being considered, and our views considered, unlike the Complaints Procedure (bring back the Resident Appeals Panel)
  6. Local issues need local solutions, support staff and tenants to make changes for the better.
  7. See more staff on site.
  8. Help start up more tenants groups; this will increase involvement in other areas, e.g. iN Panels.
  9. Stop cancelling iN Panels; get more tenants involved in iN Panels, etc.
  10. Senior staff need to make personal appearances at meetings and give answers to questions.
  11. Take contractors to task if they fail to perform but act quickly.
  12. Improve interdepartmental communication to improve service to tenants.
  13. More follow up from Contour to ensure the service is delivered and completed, currently wait for tenants to complain.
  14. More real say for tenants on the big issues.
  15. Written replies to written enquiries within a reasonable time span.
  16. Observe your own standards, e.g. local lettings policies.
  17. Better service charge information that is accurate with costs.

 

 

FINAL THOUGHTS

  1. Residents need to be at the heart of the organisation. Only they can assess whether the service s are value for money.
  2. Resident’s views and time must be valued more and good feedback from Contour which must be honest is essential or tenant apathy will increase.
  3. Everyone wants an organisation that talks to tenants and listen, listen and listen, then act upon those views.
  4. Take tenants views to heart, we want to work with staff to make Contour the best landlord.
  5. Many tenants think that Contour like other landlords only want to do what is best for the company, this is a great chance to prove that Contour tenants actually matter and come first.
  6. If you can not do things, please give proper explanations as to why not, or consider doing things differently so you can meet tenant’s aspirations.
  7. Listen and react positively listening to tenants will save Contour and Contour’s resident’s money.
  8. Recognise that tenant volunteers give a lot of their time. Please ensure we get good feedback for our efforts and accept that we are trying to help the organisation.

 

 

Answers from the group of the other remaining 5 questions.

 

(A)       What are the common views around what makes a good service?

  1. When a customer feels they are important and dealt with as an individual.
  2. Action happens as a result on contact or information that is accurate is given.
  3. Accessible service(s)
  4. Personal face to face contact with people who know who you are with a knowledgeable of their service(s) and what your requirements are. This encourages repeat business.

 

 

(B)       What are the common ideas around the three best and three worst things that Contour do?

BEST

  1. Improved call centre as a result of listening.
  2. ASB Policy and Procedure has improved.
  3. Old Resident Appeals Panel truly empowered residents and led to services improving.

 

WORST

  1. Pressurise frontline staff that do not have time or resources to deal with issues.
  2. Staff turnover which might be internal moving which leads to inconsistent service and problems not handed onto new staff and lack of opportunity to develop trust and relationships.
  3. Not listening to our views and changing the Resident Appeals Panel.

 

 

(C)       What services that Contour currently perform should we do differently?

  1. Go back to Contour Homes original Resident Appeals Panel, prove that you listen to us, this was something we valued.
  2. Have a change of heart and re-introduce the Tenant’s Forum or something like this, as well as the Residents’ Conference.
  3. Provide appropriate levels of staff to enable Resident Involvement to be an operational, hands on, support team working directly with residents forming stronger existing tenants groups and new tenants groups.
  4. Have the Resident Involvement staff to facilitate meetings.
  5. Introduce more Tenants and Residents Associations deals, facilitated by Resident Involvement.

 

 

(D)       What are the group’s ideas on what makes a good landlord?

  1. A landlord that says what they do and does what they say.
  2. A landlord that involves residents from the very start of changes or processes and gives updates on progress and feeds back on outcomes.
  3. A landlord that listens, acts, follows up issues and feeds back.
  4. Champions tenants needs and requirements.
  5. Undertakes a high quality, reliable repairs and improvement services with appointments.

 

 

(F)       What choices do tenants currently have and what choices would they like to have in the future?

Tenants recognised that they had a number of existing choices, e.g. whether to be involved and how, how they contact us or pay their rent, etc, in addition to limited choices during improvements works.

For the Future

  1. Want appointments for contractors.
  2. Would like more choice on standard for services, e.g. gardeners, etc.
  3. More clarity required on costs of services to assess value for money to be established.
  4. Choice on future mergers and stock transfers.
  5. More individual choices, less collective choices.
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