Why I’m excited about Together with Tenants – for Coastline and for the sector

We like to believe we’re a complex sector, and that the outside world just doesn’t understand us. I wonder sometimes if the root of that belief comes from us thinking that we’re all different to each other, that we’re all unique, special unicorns.

Allister Young is Chief Executive of Coastline Housing.

Allister Young is Chief Executive of Coastline Housing.

1 May 2019

I’m not particularly convinced we are all that different to each other. And I think we would benefit from focusing and talking more about what we have in common, rather than what makes us different, and on setting out a simple message about what we do and what we stand for.

That’s one of the reasons I was keen for Coastline to be one of the early adopters of the Federation’s ‘Together with Tenants’ work. It is a chance for us as a sector to coalesce around a common set of commitments, a chance for us to adopt a shared language about what we do and why.

But my enthusiasm for ‘Together with Tenants’ isn’t just about what I think it can help achieve for the sector as a whole. It’s also, more selfishly, about what I think our involvement as an early adopter can do for Coastline. To explain, I’m going to quote directly from an email Bee Rowley, our Community Investment Team Manager, sent me recently on the subject:

“I have already found that our involvement in the formulation of the Together with Tenants Charter has empowered our involved customers to think more critically about their role within the organisation, and has led to consideration about how better to communicate with the board and ensure that mechanisms for feeding the voice of our wider customer base into the governance structure are considered by the team.”

(Trust me, that’s a lot better than I could have put it.)

Bee is also really excited (and this isn’t CEO BS, she is REALLY excited) about working with the Federation on how we can engage customers in monitoring and reporting progress against the charter. For us, this will link in with an increasing focus on community-based work, and also with a ‘guided conversation’ tool we are developing in conjunction with the University of Exeter.

Personally, I’m excited about how Together for Tenants can help shape our governance structure and behaviours, to make sure that right through the organisation we can hand on heart say we are putting our customers first. As a starting point, our board will be undertaking a self-assessment of how we measure up to the charter, in the same way we do every year for the regulatory standards (including the consumer standards).

But perhaps even more than that I’m looking forward to hearing from our customers about how they think we measure up to the commitments in the charter. The requirement of the charter that it is our customers, not us, who decide if we are living up to our commitments is a powerful step, and a step in the right direction.

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