Welcome to the latest Stockbridge Village Community Voice Update

I hope you are enjoying the signs of spring and longer daylight hours.

I’m pleased to share this latest update covering key discussions from our recent Community Voice meeting. Our group is made up of myself and other tenants who live in the Stockbridge Village area.

We work together with ForHousing to take action and signpost to partners when it’s needed.

Together we understand the importance of listening and learning from tenants, like me and you, about crucial matters affecting our neighbourhood.

We want to have our voices heard and be a part of influencing what happens in our homes and communities.

Please read on for all the essential news from our March Community Voice update.

Steph Tomlinson, Chair of Community Voice

Neighbourhoods we can be proud of

We want to be proud of our neighbourhood and feel safe here. 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 Huyton, a refurbishment project is underway to provide one-bedroomed homes. Seven one-bed flats will be brought back into use to provide supported move-on accommodation.

In addition, five bungalows, 15 one-bedroom flats, and two three-bed houses will also be brought into use to provide affordable homes for rent in Huyton.

The Ploughmans is set to be demolished and transformed into family homes. ForHousing reassured us that we will be consulted on the final plans. We discussed that this site is currently a target for vandalism and that there is also a vermin issue. ForHousing is working on making the site secure and has been reporting issues to the police and the local council.

We asked about the land next to the Denecliff high rise, and whether this could be a prime spot for a play area. Plans to enclose all the balconies were also mentioned. ForHousing will follow up on this and share an update with us.

We flagged that the shop fronts need some attention – for example the pillars are degrading. ForHousing will follow up on this and incorporate plans for the community mural.

A fallen tree next to the school is being used as a den by young people, drinking alcohol. ForHousing is going to contact Liberty to get the tree removed.

Concerns were raised about issues at the vicarage, but ForHousing has informed us that the police are dealing with it and further details are withheld for legal reasons.

There was an enquiry about the occupancy status of all the shops. It was confirmed that they are either occupied or about to be and it was clarified that all shops are owned by ForHousing, except for the NISA, which is being taken over by Morrisons.

Improving services and listening to your views

ForHousing provided an update on tenant satisfaction, including the plan to move to digital surveys to allow every tenant to give their feedback. Currently, tenant satisfaction surveys take place over the phone and this limits it to 100 people which doesn’t provide an accurate picture.

We raised the importance of ensuring the survey is accessible to those who don’t have digital skills or access. ForHousing confirmed that while it’s a digital-first approach, phone calls and text messages are still available and the questions remain the same.

To ensure the survey is accessible for everyone,  there’s an audio option for anyone who is sight-impaired and Google Translate for multiple languages, with plans for further improvements. This approach also allows for real-time updates, ensuring quicker responses to tenant issues. ForHousing aims to address tenant dissatisfaction via phone to resolve issues promptly, escalating to the appropriate service area if needed.

When discussing repairs, it can be confusing for tenants when we don’t know what the operative who is sent is qualified to deal with. In some cases, the wrong specialist is sent. We asked if this could be improved and ForHousing confirmed that they are aware of this issue and are going to be focusing on it.

ForHousing also plans to gather information to prevent issues like this from happening in the future. These changes are positive and will have a major impact, including on quality assurance. The ForHousing team will update the group on feedback at the September meeting.

Supporting tenants when they need it most

Overall, the Money Advice Service is working well, helping people to get the income they’re entitled to and manage their finances better. The aim is to support people to stay in their homes.

We also heard that there are challenges, for example, with getting Universal Credit payments made directly to ForHousing due to reluctance from the Department of Work and Pensions.

We asked about fuel support which sits with ForHousing’s Live Well fund. ForHousing will give an update about the Live Well fund at our next meeting.

There was a discussion about public access to the IT terminal, which is currently located in the lounge of Jackson Gardens and not accessible to the general public. Efforts are being made to investigate the possibility of moving the terminal into a more publicly accessible area in Jackson Gardens so that more people can make use of it.

An update was provided on the Tenancy Resilience service which is going well and is based at Unit 7, which is not yet at full capacity.

Making a positive contribution to the local community

At Community Voice we are dedicated to working with ForHousing and local partners to make a positive impact in our neighbourhood.

At the meeting, we had an update on a long-term project called Understanding Our Communities. It is about identifying what can be improved and focusing on the existing strengths in the community that can be built upon.

There was also a question about the consideration of council boundaries in the project, noting that 4/5 of the area is in Knowsley and 1/5 is in Liverpool.

It was mentioned that there is no local historical society but there are individuals who have written histories on the area. It was suggested that an action plan for cross-generational work could be beneficial and could help heal community divisions.

An update was provided on the Community Fund. There was discussion about the need to introduce receipts and example funding applications were suggested to support new applicants.

The grant provided to support Tenant and Resident Associations and Tenant Groups with infrastructure and running costs is also set to be expanded to more groups. Concerns were raised about the same groups repeatedly applying and the lack of clarity in some funding applications. An exceptions list and a review of funding guidance were proposed to address these issues.

We discussed how to distribute remaining funds in the Community Fund ForHousing provides. Suggestions ranged from providing breakfast for schools to funding youth activities to reduce anti-social behaviour (ASB). It was also proposed to allocate some funding to the Gala Day and Apollo Sport, given their limited funding but positive impact on the community.

Listening to your views and acting on them

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. 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 homepage here.

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