Bield, which serves 23 local authority areas around Scotland, said it aims to empower tenants by asking them to voice their thoughts and recommendations regarding both their development and the company on a wider scale.
At development level, tenants can get involved in a variety of ways; the first being through completing surveys throughout the year. These cover a wide range of topics, including rent charges and how well repairs have been carried out.
After recent consultations with tenants, Bield has also launched ‘Let’s Meet’ sessions with staff including housing officers and property officers.
These meetings focus on what’s happening at the development, as well as at Bield in general. After each session, staff members produce ‘you said, we did’ feedback on the issues that tenants have raised.
“One of the most positive aspects of tenant engagement is that our tenants from all over Scotland can share their experiences of what’s going on at their own development.”
Beyond home level, tenants can also have their say. In 2002, Bield launched The Partnership Forum which sees tenants and senior staff meet throughout the year to discuss issues, ensuring a range of voices are being heard.
Katherine Harrow, tenant and member of the Partnership Forum, said: “The Partnership Forum gets people talking about things that have not been neglected, but have not been taken care of either.
“I think the more voices we have, the more likelihood of things being done.”
Tenant engagement has been strengthened further by the Bield Improvement Group – Bield’s first ever tenants’ scrutiny body.
The collective of tenants spend time reviewing key areas of the housing provider’s services and put forward reports and recommendations to the board. These reports are an invaluable resource in helping to shape the delivery of the best possible service to tenants.
Speaking about her involvement in the Bield Improvement Group, tenant Alice Bain said: “In the Bulletin there was an ad telling us about the group starting and inviting people to go along and see if they were interested.
“I liked the very first session and thought it was going to be a very interesting type of thing to be in.
“To me it widens the scope of Bield because in one scheme you only know about your own scheme. So we get to meet people from other schemes.
“We discuss amongst ourselves the different things that can be improved upon and hopefully we save Bield money.”
Beyond The Partnership Forum and the Bield Improvement Group, tenants can also become members of the organisation itself. This allows them to attend and vote at Annual General Meetings (AGMs), as well as potentially putting themselves forward to join the board of management.
These unique opportunities to engage with Bield reinforce the charity’s commitment in continuing to put tenants at the heart of the organisation.
Chris McShane, tenant engagement officer at Bield, said: “Tenant engagement is on the rise with more and more people taking part in our groups and sessions.
“Most issues brought forward at developments are day-to-day matters such as repairs. This is a vital way to engage but there has also been some big changes at national level that have come from tenant scrutiny reviews such as the one on Ending a Tenancy Policy where the approach and language used has been re‐addressed.
“I think one of the most positive aspects of tenant engagement is that our tenants from all over Scotland can share their experiences of what’s going on at their own development and also have the opportunity to be at the heart of the bigger decisions Bield makes as an organisation.
“We have a few plans in the pipeline for our next engagement project, which will focus in on establishing neighbourhood networks between developments.
“We are hoping that this will be just as successful with tenants as our current engagement opportunities.
“We are also about to launch our first ever tenant engagement video to highlight the fantastic work taking place and hopefully it will encourage more tenants to get involved in helping Bield continue to deliver the best possible services.”