Focus on journey of change at Grampian Housing Association’s AGM

Focus on journey of change at Grampian Housing Association's AGM

Dr Abhi Agarwal

The launch of new neighbourhood officer roles and use of customer experience feedback were among the initiatives announced at Grampian Housing Association’s recent annual general meeting.

They form part of the Association’s journey of change to ensure services to tenants continue to be customer focussed and to drive customer satisfaction levels.

Dr Abhi Agarwal, who was re-elected as chairman, highlighted that the pandemic had provided useful learning for the Association about alternative ways of working. This had resulted in development of Grampian’s digital approach from the perspective of tenants and customers. More access to online services and services offering more choice and flexibility to tenants will be provided based on feedback that this is their preferred way forward.

Commenting on his re-election, Dr Agarwal said: “It has been a demanding yet rewarding second year as chairman. We feel that we are emerging from the pandemic and that a ‘new normal’ is perhaps beginning to win through.

“However, we are in no doubt that the last 18 months have badly affected many of our tenants and customers, their families and our communities. We expect the impact will be long lasting so our challenge is to do better and more for those we are here to help.

“Our charitable purpose to deliver affordable housing and excellent customer focussed services has never been more important. I really appreciate the staff teams who have performed exceptionally well to help and support our tenants and customers despite the pandemic challenges.”

Members attending the meeting also heard about the Association’s successes in the launch of ‘These Homes’, a new digital lettings service for housing applicants; tackling the climate challenge and contributing to the Scottish Government’s emissions reductions targets by using renewable energy through installing solar PV with battery storage whilst supporting tenants to rise out of fuel poverty; help for tenants through its money advice, housing support and energy advice projects; major improvements to properties including installing new kitchens and bathrooms.

Dr Agarwal added: “The Scottish Government’s Programme for Government, announced earlier in September acknowledges the significant role of the social housing sector in the country’s recovery from Covid-19.

“We are keen to support this and with the Association’s ongoing development programme its target for new build homes in the north-east has increased from 500 to 600 over the course of the next three years.”

Dr Abhi Agarwal is an associate professor in strategy with Edinburgh Napier University Business School. Previously he was an MBA course leader at Aberdeen Business School, Robert Gordon University where he continues in a visiting academic role. Dr Agarwal is also a member of the Quality and Performance Committee of Healthcare Improvement Scotland (HIS) Board.

Jim Cargill has also been re-elected as vice-chair. Mr Cargill is a provider of AI-based marine logistics optimisation software and a director of Calibre International Ltd, a business consultancy.

Three new members, Alex Drummond, Ritchie Johnson and Bob Stewart, joined the board.

Commenting on the new appointments, Dr Abhi Agarwal said: “I welcome all new members to the board. Their diverse skill set strengthens the board’s governance and strategic remit in the areas of housing, finance, funding, policy, project management, change management and risk.

“Their reasons for joining the board resonate with making a difference to peoples’ lives, building communities and contributing to the provision of quality affordable housing in the North East of Scotland.”

The retirement of Nora Radcliffe, the Association’s longest-standing board member with nine years’ service was marked.

Sixteen members of the Association attended the AGM, which was held online again this year as a result of Covid-19 restrictions.

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