Grampian HA welcomes three new board members at AGM

Grampian HA welcomes three new board members at AGM

Pictured (L-R): Freya Lees, chairman Abhi Agarwal, Charlotte Torrance, Nikola Will and CEO Craig Stirrat

Grampian Housing Association has appointed three new board members at its recent annual general meeting.

Freya Lees, Charlotte Torrance and Nikola Will were elected along with Dave Thomson, who had filled a casual vacancy during the year.

Ms Lees is a housing consultant and former chair of Kingdom Housing Association and Ms Torrance is a local solicitor at Anderson Bain while Ms Will works with the Citizens Advice Bureau and brings a tenant perspective from Aberdeenshire Council.

Along with Mr Thomson, housing manager at Aberdeenshire Council the new board members bring a wealth of knowledge and experience. 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 appointments strengthen the board as the association launches The Grampian Deal, its new customer experience initiative co-created with tenants. Based on the four key themes of customer service, communication, contractors and communities, the ultimate objective of The Grampian Deal is to increase satisfaction levels.

By setting out how the association will deliver on its commitments in these areas it is confident that tenants and customers will see positive changes in how the association delivers its services as well as improvements in the repairs service and support in communities.

Dr Abhi Agarwal, who was re-elected as chairman, highlighted the success of the association’s Heat and Eat initiative to support tenants in fuel poverty and adversely impacted by the cost of living of crisis.

Dr 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, law, asset management, policy and strategy.”

Members heard that funding of £166,000 had been received from the Scottish Government’s Social Housing Fuel Support Fund to provide energy top-up payments of £245 to over 600 tenants. An additional £20,000 grant was received from The National Lottery Community Fund. Slow cookers, air fryers, heated throws, duvets and warm clothing were distributed to 180 tenants experiencing hardship because of the cost of living crisis. Food packs were also distributed in partnership with CFINE, a local organisation tackling poverty.

Commenting on his re-election, Dr Agarwal said: “It has been another demanding yet rewarding year as chairman. Grampian is very much committed to doing what is right, to being the best it can be and to continue to deliver much needed housing and services to the communities we serve.

“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 in the post pandemic world where we face the challenges of the cost of living and energy crises.”

Members attending the meeting also heard about the forthcoming launch of MyHome, the association’s new tenant portal giving 24/7 access to its services; the zero carbon heating project at Turriff where gas boilers have been replaced by a air source heat pump community network, supported by solar panels with battery storage to provide cheaper heating options for tenants which will also have a positive impact on the environment.

Dr 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. He 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. He is a provider of AI-based marine logistics optimisation software and a director of Calibre International Ltd, a business consultancy.

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