Published October 29th, 2020
Tenants of a housing association in Cornwall have come together to revolutionise their communications, giving all residents a voice in the way their landlord operates and delivers services.
A new group called Together with Ocean (TWO) has been developed by tenants of Ocean Housing following the National Housing Federation’s ‘Together with Tenants’ campaign, which, in response to the tragedy at Grenfell Tower, called for housing associations to build more positive relationships with their residents.
Ocean’s chief executive, Mark Gardner, said: “We put tenants at the heart of everything we do here at Ocean, and we always encourage them to get more involved in policy decisions, improving services, and scrutinising and challenging performance.
“We have always had a strong relationship with our tenants, but we all wanted to make a change in the way we work together. The tenants have led the way in establishing TWO, and deciding how they will operate in the future.”
TWO is responsible for reviewing Ocean Housing’s performance and any decisions which will affect tenants, as well as co-designing and monitoring service standards.
Since the UK went into lockdown in March, all meetings to complete the group’s formation have taken place via video conference. The success of this approach means meetings and the AGM will all be virtual moving forward.
Paul Symon, an Ocean tenant, has been elected as the chair of TWO. He said: “The whole process of forming our new group has shown how creative we can be and it’s got everyone talking more. The training and support which we asked Ocean to provide has been brilliant, and we are coming up with so many new ideas to benefit tenants.
“Everyone has a voice, and who better to come up with ideas to improve services than the people who receive them? We made history running the first AGM over Zoom this year, and had a high number of tenants attend to discuss their views with board members. We want to continue this communication with directors of the company, creating an open-door policy for them to join our TWO meetings.
“Our new virtual meetings mean any Ocean tenant or resident can get involved, wherever they live in Cornwall. They have become more inclusive, and we have had interest from a wider range of people, which means we can be more representative of all Ocean residents.”
Ocean Housing is always looking for new residents to get involved, and has created a tiered partnerships system which features awards for participation. Tenants can become a bronze, silver, or gold partner, depending on how much commitment they are able to offer, with rewards including shopping vouchers, training, and a meal with the chief executive.
For more information about Ocean Housing, visit: oceanhousing.com.