Tom Woodman, CEO of Cornerstone Housing in Exeter, blogs about the Consumer Standards Consultation with residents they hosted.
It’s a bit of a cliché nowadays to say that we are living in interesting times. But, an event last week brought home to me how interesting – and even exciting – some of our current issues are.
The event was the first in this month’s series of PlaceShapers ‘Meet the Regulator’ events. Hosted here at Cornerstone Housing in Exeter, Kate Dodsworth from the Regulator of Social Housing had come with some of her team to listen to residents from like-minded PlaceShaper housing associations across the south west.
As soon as people started arriving, there was a real buzz in the air. Residents from Cornerstone, Teign Housing, Westward, North Devon Homes, Coastline and Soha had come from as far away as Redruth and Didcot (250 miles apart…!) to share their views on the RSH’s draft new consumer standards.
Chatting to residents at the start, it was clear that people were seeing this as a real opportunity. And, not just an opportunity to shape the standards. People from all organisations were telling me that they felt an optimism about wider resident involvement and engagement that they hadn’t felt for years (or ever). A confidence that their views are being taken seriously, and that relationships are being reset.
None of us should need a regulatory standard to tell us to treat our customers with fairness and respect. Getting the basics right is the easy part though; the difficult stuff is how we spot things going wrong (as early as we can) and resolve them. And real resolution is – as well as mending the buildings - more about mending trust.
That’s not about regulatory compliance, it’s about culture, and it’s hard work. And it was reassuring to hear Kate’s nuanced views on the multiple ways the RSH will take the temperature on what’s really going on with organisations.
As we cleared up after the event, a colleague asked me if it had been a good day. I’d started off the morning hoping that the regulatory team would be able to learn from residents across the region. I’d finished by realising that I had been learning just as much, and that’s always a good day.