Independent Complaints Panel
Derwent Living has now set up its independent complaints panel to act as a designated person in the handling of complaints.
We have joined up with Gedling Homes and Tuntum Housing Association to create a panel of six customers, with two representatives from each landlord. The panel acts as a new stage for referral once a complaint has gone through the internal complaints process, before it can be referred to the Ombudsman. The panel will then review the complaint independently and look to facilitate a resolution between landlord and complainant.
The role of the complaints panel is also to help the landlord learn from complaints and make any recommendations.
The panel members have taken part in a comprehensive programme of training with TPAS to assist them in their new role.
Community allotments tidy up days
In August 2013 we held two allotments tidy up days at our sites in Kilburn and Kimberley. Staff were joined by plot holders and our contractor, Greenfingers, to assist with tidying up the areas and clearing any unused plots. The difference made at both sites has meant that any unused plots have now been snapped up by other local residents.
Both sites are very popular, and are used by not only our customers but members of the local community and local schools too. Kilburn plot holder Gayle Knighton said, “I love it, we come most days and it saves us a fortune.”
The allotments were opened in 2009. As well as being a thriving place for plants, the allotments attract a diverse range of wildlife including hedgehog, butterflies and several species of bee.
Car boot consultations
Derwent Living’s resident involvement team went out and about in the East Midlands visiting housing schemes to show customers the range of online services that are available.
The team has visited sites across Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire and set up a pop up stall from the back of a car. Using mobile devices such as an iPad, team members have been able to guide people through the online services and get them started so that they can manage their tenancies with more flexibility.
Mitch Allseybrook, resident involvement manager, said: “We are keen to show people how easy it is to use our online services even from a smartphone. Customers can access a wide range of services that include checking their rent balance and reporting repairs. They can even take part in an online involvement forum and discuss our services with other residents.
“It’s great to meet customers face-to-face but increasing numbers of people are using our online services. We have chosen to visit places where there are large numbers of new customers who may not know what’s on offer. And of course customers are raising other matters with us too which we can deal with for them.”
MY Derwent Living is available to all customers with an email account. The Derwent Living App can be downloaded free from the Apple app store for iOS devices and from Google Play for Android.
In April 2013 Derwent Living launched MY Community, as part of my.derwentliving.com. MY Community provided customers with an online forum where they could discuss a wide variety of topics and issues.
Customers are able to start their own ‘posts’ as well as contribute to those started by others. MY Community is administrated by staff but we also have customer moderators who help us monitor the site.
In addition to discussion forums, customers can also take part in polls, and be informed of upcoming meetings and events. We carry out consultation through MY Community and receive valuable feedback. MY Community provides an alternative way of getting involved and having your say, and suits many of our customers who aren’t able to attend traditional meetings.
Text message consultation
Throughout 2013 Derwent Living has held several consultations with our customers using text messages as a method of contacting customers and allowing customers to respond and give their feedback.
We’ve consulted on a wide range of topics some of which include whether our customers have access to the internet, satisfaction with landscape services and overall satisfaction with Derwent Living. We will continue to use text messaging as a quick and efficient way of gathering your views.
Resident Involvement Officer, Harriet Phillipson said “Using text messages to consult and communicate with customers is a quick, easy and cost effective way of gaining valuable feedback, allowing customers to tell us how they feel about our services. ”
Welfare reform events
During 2013 Derwent Living, along with other local landlords and organisations, ran a series of events aimed at raising awareness of benefit changes, and assisting customers affected by the bedroom tax.
In March we held a welfare reform information day at Derby’s Assembly Rooms; this was in partnership with Derby Homes and other local agencies. At the event we were able to offer advice and information to those affected by the benefit changes and, where appropriate, signpost to other agencies for help.
We also held two mutual exchange Home Swap events, in July and October. These were run in partnership with other local landlords, and provided customers with the opportunity to find alternative housing that suited their needs in response to the bedroom tax.
Resident scrutiny networking
Derwent Living’s resident scrutiny team hosted a successful Scrutiny Networking Forum on Thursday 11 July at the Derby Conference Centre. The event attracted 94 delegates from 23 different landlords and was a fantastic success. The resident scrutiny team is a skilled and dedicated group of residents who analyse and monitor our services. The team monitors performance to ensure that objectives are met and services are shaped around the needs of our residents.
Jon Warnock from the Tenant Participation Advisory Service (TPAS), nicknamed Scrutiny Man, gave the main address. In an upbeat and inspiring presentation he emphasised the importance of good scrutiny and spoke to attendees about being effective and successful. This led participants into a series of exercises including sharing ideas on best practice in scrutiny, and creating a coat of arms which best represents their scrutiny team.
The event also included a consultation by Hugh Laird of The Board Development Agency, a quiz and the opportunity for scrutiny team members to meet others and share ideas.