Members inspired by Grenfell give tenants more say in landlord’s future

A North-West landlord has appointed ten tenants to a new Customer Committee to help shape how services are delivered across the communities they live in.

ForHousing has recruited tenants from a variety of backgrounds, including a local councillor, an NHS volunteer and full-time carers, to be part of the new committee which will play a major role in how the landlord is governed.

The newly-formed group will use their personal experience to help ForHousing, which owns and manages 24,000 homes, identify areas where it needs to improve. They will also help engage the local community to co-design future services and support the delivery of commitments in the Tenant Voice Strategy.

Committee members will be encouraged to champion issues important to them and be the voice of tenants amongst the ForHousing Board. It is all part of the landlord’s aim to put tenants at the heart of what they do, being committed to listening, learning from and acting on the feedback of tenants.

Adina Makin was inspired to join after seeing the devastation of the Grenfell Tower fire. Adina, who works for another housing association as a housing complaints manager, said it was good news that tenants would get a stronger voice on building safety and the decisions that affect them.

She said: “I first started working in social housing following the Grenfell tragedy. Being a high-rise tenant myself, my experience has made me recognise the importance of customer voice. I’m excited to work with a great bunch of people towards making a real difference.”

Joining Adina on the new task force are Samantha Bellamy, elected councillor for Walkden and founder of For the Love of Food Salford community interest company; Aderonke Apata, the interim CEO of the African Rainbow Family; Stockbridge Village born-and-raised civil servant Kelly Nash; and HMRC front-line manager Chikwendu Ifionu.

Also in the group will be Kate Langtree, a carer and holistic therapist; chief data officer and NHS volunteer Donna O’Neill; full-time carer Bill Weightman and retiree Helen Wild. Supply chain transport manager Stephen England completes the team.

Members are having a series of inductions to help them understand how the landlord currently operates, including learning about repairs, diversity and inclusion and ForHousing’s plans for decarbonisation.

New committee member Bill Weightman said: “I’m really looking forward to making a difference to how ForHousing listens and supports tenants and customers.

“I see our role as committee members as being extremely important for the future of our communities, because the better we all understand each other, the better the future we will make.”

Colette McKune, CEO of ForHousing, said: “At ForHousing we believe that lives don’t improve by chance, but through change. Tenants should be at the heart of that change. Hearing from tenants and getting direct feedback means we can improve and make the changes needed to meet their expectations. Working together, collaboratively and with care will mean we can have a lasting impact on communities.

“We’ve always aimed for an honest and open two-way partnership with tenants. The committee will bring invaluable insight in terms of experience while also helping shape the Board decisions that will affect them. They will get involved in ensuring that the promises we make to other groups, such as the Scrutiny Panel and Community Voice group, are kept and acted upon.”