Welcome to our new Customer Involvement Strategy which sets out how we involve customers to help shape our services and hold us to account. We have consulted customers on what they want to include in this strategy.
This strategy has been written following publication of the Housing Green Paper – A New Deal for Social Housing – in 2018. In Gateshead we support an increased focus on actively engaging with tenants and the desire for a culture of accountability and respect.
Since our first Customer Involvement Strategy we have achieved a great deal through proactively involving customers in reviewing how our services are delivered.
We continue to face new challenges, such as the impact of welfare reform and the delivery of a new repairs model. But we are confident that by continuing to put customers at the heart of what we do, whatever challenges we face, we can tackle them together successfully.
- Who we are
The Gateshead Housing Company is a not-for-profit organisation established in 2004 that manages over 19,600 rented properties and over 800 leasehold properties on behalf of Gateshead Council. Our aim is to provide our customers with a modern, high-quality home and exceptional housing services.
In addition to traditional landlord services we also provide a range of support services, including Syrian refugee support and an Armed Forces Outreach Service. We also manage properties on behalf of other landlords.
We put equality and diversity at the heart of the way we deliver services. We collect customer profile information to help understand the diversity of our customers and we use this information in a range of ways so that we can target involvement activities and maximise tenant participation.
- What informs our approach?
Our Corporate Plan (2018-23) sets out our vision to be ‘The housing provider of first choice for everyone making their home in a thriving Gateshead’. To achieve this, we recognise the importance of meaningful and effective customer engagement.
The company values that inform how we work reflect this commitment to engaging and listening to our customers:
- Creating a great customer experience
- Being open and honest
- Being accountable
- Being fair, inclusive and valuing differences.
As a social landlord we are required to meet the Government’s Tenant Involvement and Empowerment Standard. This sets out the requirement that we ensure tenants are given a wide range of opportunities to influence and be involved in:
- the formulation of our housing related policies and strategies
- decisions as to how services are delivered, including the setting of service standards
- scrutiny of performance and the making of recommendations as to how performance could be improved
- the management of their homes
- the management of repairs and maintenance
- local offers for service delivery.
- TPAS membership
TPAS are a not-for-profit organisation recognised as England’s leading tenant engagement experts. They provide independent and impartial advice, support, consultancy and training. Their National Tenant Engagement Standards (appendix 1) published in 2018 provide a blueprint for how an organisation could approach their tenant engagement activity effectively. As an active member of TPAS, we share their commitment to drive customer engagement forward. We support these standards and continue to adopt them in our practices to get the results our customers want.
- Working together to make a difference
Tenant involvement is about making a difference to services, individuals and communities, ensuring accountability. By working together with our customers, it enables us to:
- build open and effective relationships with customers
- help us gain valuable customer feedback and ideas which we use to tailor our services
- share greater levels of understanding about each other’s priorities and limits
- empower customers and build their confidence and skills, improving their opportunities in the wider community to apply in their day-to-day lives
- provide value for money; changing services based on what customers want rather than what we ‘think’ they want
- achieve greater customer satisfaction
- attract recognition, nationally and locally, celebrating our achievements.
- Priorities 2019 – 2022
We have set out five key priorities that we will aim to achieve over the next three years.
Key priority 1 – Provide a range of accessible ways to be involved
Key priority 2 – Improve our services through targeted and meaningful involvement actions
Key priority 3 – Empower customers to build their skills and confidence
Key priority 4 – Listen and act on customer feedback
Key priority 5 – Demonstrate the impact and value of involvement activity.
- How will we deliver these priorities?
A strategic action plan will be developed that supports the delivery of the five key priorities and helps inform individual service action plans to ensure involvement is embedded across the company.
A copy of the strategy and action plan will be made available on our website and on request. To ensure that everyone can access both documents we will if requested provide them in a range of different formats and in different languages.
We recognise the need to ensure that customer involvement is embedded across the whole company and is seen as everyone’s responsibility. The Customer Involvement Team plays a key role in terms of delivering involvement activities and in supporting and facilitating other services and teams to deliver involvement activities.
The team will maintain and update an Involvement Toolkit which provides a range of methods to enable employees to deliver involvement consistently and effectively. They will offer advice and coaching to employees on how to undertake effective involvement activities and they will monitor outcomes to ensure that we maintain our commitments.
Our “Guide to getting involved” sets out the range of opportunities for customers to actively engage with us and how we support people to get involved. We are committed to ensuring everyone can access our services and remove any barriers that may make it difficult for people to get involved. We provide a range of support services to customers with different needs and strive to improve access overall.
To support involvement activities a specific budget will be made available, managed by the Customer Involvement Team. Regular progress updates on involvement activities will be presented to the company’s Customers and Communities Committee.
- Monitoring our achievements
We are committed to involving customers and informing them of the outcomes from this strategy. We will do this in a variety of ways:
- The Involvement Service Improvement Group will meet regularly to monitor and review our progress against the key priorities and involvement service standards
- Regular update reports on involvement activities and performance will be taken to the Customers and Communities Committee and the Board
- We will publicise our involvement activities and achievements in different ways (e.g. TGHC News, social media, our website)
- We will demonstrate the value of our involvement
- linking to the objectives set out in our Corporate Plan
- being clear on what we are aiming to achieve and the difference we want to make
- evidencing the outcomes from involvement activities
- assessing the impact by identifying what has changed.
- What does being involved mean to our customers?
“I get a sense of achievement to be able to say I had a hand in that.”
“I am a service user in Gateshead. I have joined some of the meetings to give my views and thoughts for what goes on in the borough.”
“I get a great deal of satisfaction getting involved; you can actually see things happening.”
“During my time being involved with TGHC I have helped cut out jargon and simplify billing, so people can understand items better.”
“I enjoy coming to this group and others because it gets me out of the house and it’s a chance to listen to different people speaking. I find it very interesting and it keeps my brain working. When I get home I often phone my daughter and tell her that I’ve enjoyed my day.”
- Message from Neil Bouch (Interim Managing Director)
“I hope you have enjoyed reading our Customer Involvement Strategy and how we put customers at the heart of everything we do. It is the responsibility of the whole organisation to put this strategy into effect to ensure that involvement is meaningful, accessible, and allows customers the opportunity to influence the services we provide.”
For further information email the Customer Involvement Team, text ‘INVOLVE’ to 07917 088063, or call 0191 433 5357.
Find out more about our involvement activities by liking us on Facebook www.facebook.com/gatesheadhousingcompany following us on Twitter www.twitter.com/gatesheadhc or visit our website www.gatesheadhousing.co.uk
TPAS National Tenant Engagement Standards – Setting the standard for effective engagement
1. Engagement strategy
Building the right foundations is critical for effective engagement.
Tenants and stakeholders need to influence your business plan, so your involvement priorities can flow from it. The principles under this standard are designed to help you make the most from your tenant involvement strategy by ensuring tenants are involved in the key issues and objectives affecting them and the business.
2. Resources for engagement
Identifying the right support to put in place to enable effective engagement
As the saying goes, ‘you’ve got to invest to gain’. Planned investment is essential to
reap all the rewards that effective engagement can bring. Meeting this standard ensures that your tenant involvement supports you to focus and maximise your resources and makes sure you’re effective in delivering your essential outcomes.
3. Information and insight
Commit to gathering, using and providing the right information
To ensure your engagement is fully maximised you need to ensure you’re accessing the
right information, at the right level, at the right time, from the right people and in the
4. Influence and scrutiny
Creating appropriate and effective levels of influence and scrutiny to drive business performance
Enabling scrutiny and influence at a strategic and operational level will help you review your processes, streamline your services, systems and documents and ensure tenants have an accountable role in their landlord’s decisions, performance and conduct.
5. Community engagement
Using a range of methods for effective wider community engagement.
These principles are about working with communities to understand the issues they feel are a priority and find solutions with the community for long term sustainability. It’s about being creative in empowering and supporting communities to develop their capacity and address issues that are wider than just ‘housing’.