As early adopters of the NHF’s Together with Tenants sector wide initiative, North Star Housing have re-shaped our resident engagement activities to empower residents to get involved in influencing decisions and help shape our service delivery.
Over the last two years, we have used Together with Tenants as a platform to strengthen our relationship as a social landlord with residents. We worked closely with residents to better understand how we could reach out and work with a broader range of residents from across our communities in the ways that are most meaningful and convenient to them.
The aim for us as a housing association was to move away from static membership groups and focus our attention on consulting with resident groups based on their interests and time available to commit.
This led to the creation of North Star’s Resident Engagement Structure. At the centre of this structure is the Tenants’ Voice Scrutiny Panel (TVSP) who are a dedicated group of involved residents that identify areas for scrutiny, carry out that scrutiny and report their findings to the board.
You can view a diagram on our website explaining how our Resident Involvement Structure works.
We have also used Together with Tenants to support North Star’s resident scrutiny work. This includes consulting with 108 residents and working with staff, board and representatives from TVSP, North Star Link and Tenant Advisors to co-create three commitments.
We are determined to embed these commitments across our organisation to drive culture change. The commitments are designed to ensure our residents through TVSP can hold us to account on what is most important for them.
Before each scrutiny exercise, TVSP consults with our wider tenant base using one of the commitments as a basis for their questions. Using the results of this, they determine which element of North Star’s services they scrutinise.
The process was first piloted in 2021 and the group presented an excellent report on North Star’s approach to resident communication to our board who accepted their recommendations and outlined a wider commitment to working towards implementation and progress reviews.
The group is responsible for reviewing North Star’s Customer Commitments and consults with the wider resident community to make sure their work is relevant to as many people as possible.
TVSP also have the power to commission issue specific task and finish groups made up of residents directly impacted or with direct experience of the service being consulted on. For example, a complaints consultation carried out with tenants who have had a complaint resolved within the last twelve months. Managers will also be able to commission these groups based on policy consultations or procurement exercises that they are carrying out.
We offer an incentive in the form of vouchers and prize draws for residents who get involved with our engagement activities as a show of gratitude for their time and commitment.
Residents who form the temporary task and finish specific issue groups are offered £30 each for participating. The incentive of being entered into a draw for high street vouchers is also offered to all residents involved in consultations.
We advertise on our social media platforms giving residents the chance to take part in these consultations. To improve transparency we have created a Scrutiny Reports page on our website where residents can hear from TVSP members and review their findings
- North Star Housing
This has led to the creation of detailed Scrutiny Reports completed by residents who review the services we provide with greater accountability and transparency as their findings are reported directly to our board. As a result, we have seen better engagement from a diverse group of residents who feel encouraged to get involved with our engagement activities and make their voices heard.
Throughout this process, TVSP have taken ownership and led communication with residents through digital and traditional communication methods including using social media and our website. This dialogue with residents has been important to ensure we are able to hear as much feedback as possible.
We pledge to continue to strengthen our relationship with residents as a social landlord by continuing to use our Customer Commitments as the basis for TVSP’s scrutiny work. The group is currently reviewing how North Star is delivering against the commitments made to residents as part of the NHF’s Together with Tenants initiative and they will continue to present their findings directly to our board.
We believe adopting Together with Tenants and using it as a framework to strengthen relationships between residents and housing associations has given North Star the opportunity to increase the transparency, diversity and efficiency of our resident engagement activities.
Together with Tenants is our opportunity as a sector to put residents at the heart of strategic decision-making, strengthen our accountability, and work together to deliver positive change for housing associations and residents.
We would encourage all housing associations to become adopters of Together with Tenants to start your journey towards strengthening relationships with residents. The charter is an opportunity to show leadership in addressing this. It challenges our sector to go further, and for housing associations to take the lead in accountability and resident oversight.Learn more about Together with Tenants