Welcome to the latest Fitton Hill Community Voice Update 

This update brings you all the latest discussions that have taken place in our recent Community Voice meeting, which is a group of tenants who represent people in your area.

We understand the importance of listening and learning from you and keeping you up to date with crucial matters affecting the Fitton Hill neighbourhood. We work together to take action and signpost to partners when it’s helpful.

We want you to have your voice heard and be a part of influencing what happens in your home and in the community.

Let’s dive into the essential updates from December’s Community Voice as we continue to work together to positively impact your lives.

Helen Wild, Chair of Community Voice

Neighbourhoods you can be proud of

We want to be proud of our neighbourhood and feel safe there. The Community Voice meeting gives myself, my neighbours and other tenants a chance to raise any concerns we may have. Members of the ForHousing team will take our views on board and work with partners in the local area to take action.

In our meeting, we flagged an issue with the council’s pest control policy. It seems very unfair that regular customers get free services, but those in social housing have to pay. There’s also some confusion about who’s responsible for what pests – health-related ones get free treatment, but others come with a cost.

According to the Housing Ombudsman, dealing with pests is usually on the tenant unless it’s tied to property maintenance problems. Even though most rental agreements don’t mention pest control, ForHousing considers it their responsibility if it stems from building disrepair.

We talked in the meeting that some of the pathways in the area need to be repaired and we’ve been assured that the ForHousing team is actively repairing and maintaining paths.

There have also been complaints about the state of the shops on the green, with falling security spikes and potholes in the ground. ForHousing is looking into this, and we’ll report back soon with an update.

We discussed complaints about the Gas Board leaving lots of mess when replacing pipes and the barricades they set up being pushed over into the worksites. ForHousing will follow up on this and we’ll hopefully have an update in the next meeting.

Finally, there have been issues with Liberty workers misreporting things and work being logged as finished before it has even started. ForHousing is taking steps to ensure this improves and has said that the new contract with Liberty is now even tighter and has more penalties. Do let ForHousing know of any issues so that they can be dealt with quickly.

Improving services and complaints handling

ForHousing is always keen to hear your views so they can listen, learn, and improve the services offered to us. In the meeting, we got an update on how the Customer Connect Hub is doing. They’re making things smoother – shorter call wait times and fewer dropped calls, which is great to hear.

We chatted about the improvements and the feedback clearly shows progress has been made but there’s always more to do. We are grateful to all Hub staff for providing such a valuable service to tenants.

We also talked about moving from the old Customer Connect Hub to the new one, and we were told that a lot of the calls are getting trickier. ForHousing highlighted the need for a balance between being quick and efficient on calls while still giving the best customer service.

Supporting tenants when they need it most

A new Money Advice Service has been launched, offering free and independent advice to anyone with money worries. Two full-time members of staff are available to help and can look into existing debts and help to make an action plan to reduce them, look into benefits you might be entitled to, and apply for grants on your behalf.

ForHousing really wants to support tenants through the cost-of-living crisis, so if you have any money worries, they are there to help. You can get in touch with the Money Advice Service, by calling 0300 123 5522 or email  Money.advice@forhousing.co.uk. 

In December, The Winter Warm Campaign provided packs to those in need now the colder weather has set in. Packs contained a hot water bottle, thermos, water bottle, gloves, a scarf, and a blanket for those tenants that required then.

Making a positive contribution to the local community

Myself and the Community Voice members are dedicated to working with ForHousing and local partners to making a positive impact in our neighbourhood. We talked about the exciting new Understanding our Communities project. The project is creating a map of valuable places, such as our community centres, and ForHousing has hired Action Together to oversee this detailed study in Fitton Hill.

ForHousing explained that this mapping will help to figure out the existing resources, community members, and groups we have in Fitton Hill to make better use of them and use our community’s passion to address local needs and shape services available to us.

They’ve finished the first part of the project, where they learned about what resources are available, and they have identified Fitton Hill’s ‘Community Connectors’; people who know a lot of other people in the community, who will help reach out to a broader audience.

They’re keen on making sure everyone’s voice is heard, especially those who may not usually speak up. So do get in touch if you’d like to get involved. You can do this by completing an online form at the bottom of this page. ForHousing updated us with news on the Youth Club and that a workshop, logo and posters have been created. We were also told that for the next financial year (2024/2025) extra funding has been put aside for engagement with young people beyond just for the youth club. We all agreed this was welcome news as there is very little in the community for children over the age of 13.

The group discussed the Community Fund which offers grants to individuals and groups. It includes a standard fund with a maximum £500 grant and a Local Area Improvement Fund (LIF) with up to £3000 for small environmental projects.

The Community Fund still has close to £5000 available and £7000 in the Local Area Improvement Fund. Tenants can apply for funding here. For those not online, Community Development staff can assist with phone, or in-person applications and paper forms can be sent by mail. We have been told that any leftover money will be given to local projects, charities, or initiatives.

Listening to your views and acting on them

The Community Voice is an important forum, bringing together tenants, partners from the community and ForHousing to make a positive difference.

We are actively recruiting new members to the Community Voice, so if you are interested in representing your local community and working with ForHousing to make improvements, please get in touch here. ForHousing wants to understand what matters most to you and we really appreciate people giving their time and input to groups like these so ForHousing can listen and learn.

We’ll continue to share future updates with you. Do spread the word about the tenant newsletter with your family and friends, this is published every three months, and you will be able to view the latest version on their website here.

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