Customer Committee Eunice: How many pennies will you spend?

I’ve just been to our latest Customer Committee learning and development session. Sound boring? Well, it was quite the opposite as we learned more about how Bolton at Home ticks and what choices they have to make so that all tenants get the best results.

We know money’s tight right now but the simple maths of it all is pay your rent and Bolton at Home will keep maintaining a good place to live for you and your family.

If you’re a tenant and haven’t yet looked at your most recent copy of the Door to Door newsletter, I urge you to read how Bolton at Home spent each £1 of rent monies received last year.

Coming soon, online, will be your chance to say how you’d spend a pound. How much would you put towards building communities? More or less on improving homes and estates? What about making neighbourhoods safe or supporting the more vulnerable?

More details will be available soon. I can’t wait to have a bash. We’ve seen some designs of how it’ll work and I’m sure we’ll all learn something as well as having our “two pennies worth!”

Eunice Rowley

Customer Committee Member


Customer Committee Lynne: “What a brilliant idea! Can I be first please?”

If you follow posts on this blog from committee members, you’ll get a good flavour of the different activities and meetings we’re involved in by working with Bolton at Home to improve services for customers.

Our regular activities include learning sessions, which are informal meetings to find out what’s going on in the organisation, Bolton or Greater Manchester.

At our most recent learning session, we learnt about all the research and planning that has gone into investigating the possibility of installing photovoltaic panels to Bolton at Homes properties. What a brilliant idea! Can I be first, please? Continue reading

Connecting communities

“Community is important, having a sense of community is essential.” Wise words from the guest speaker at our recent Connecting Communities event at King’s Church. This is where we bring community groups together, so that they can share ideas and learn from each other.

You often hear groups wishing they could have things like other groups, such as luncheon clubs, kids clubs, and buildings! So this is the day we give centre stage to our volunteers who want to ‘showcase’ their work, group or project and explain how they’ve made it happen.

Put yourself in their shoes for a moment. Imagine yourself stood on a large stage, about to address a room full of people (who you may not know), big screen behind you and a microphone in front. Are the hairs standing up on the back of your neck yet, are your palms sweating? That’s exactly how they feel but they do it to help others go back to their communities with fresh ideas. Continue reading

Customer Involvement’s Wolfey: Getting down to business with Fusion

Fusion are a super community group who manage their community hub of the same name on Connaught Square in Tonge Moor. I call them a ‘supergroup’ as the volunteers come from different tenant and community groups in Tonge.

Paula Rowson, our Community Development Officer based at our Tonge Moor UCAN Centre, my manager Caroline Lamprey, and me have supported the group since the idea to convert a more or less derelict building into community centre arose three years ago. The place now offers a variety of activities such as dance and art classes, a youth internet café, Breakfast Club and Tippy Toes – a parent and toddler group. It’s also a venue for our customer training courses and Craft a Story sessions run by the YMCA for youngsters. The Fostering Team use it for monthly support groups and BIDAS hold an informal drop-in service there to support those dealing with alcohol and substance misuse.

The volunteers have ambitious plans to develop the hub but find themselves at a crossroads on how to go forward. Continue reading

Heroes or villains?

It’s now clear that there’s been a fundamental shift in national housing policy and how the government perceives registered providers and the social housing sector.

The first Conservative budget put down a clear marker that we’re part of the problem, not the solution. The surprise introduction of a rent freeze – minus 1% for four years ‘requiring Housing Associations and Local Authorities to deliver efficiency savings making better use of the £13 billion annual subsidy they receive from the tax payer’ (quoted from the Treasury Budget Red Book). In other words the gravy train has run out, you’ve had it easy for too long and not delivered enough – particularly on new build.

Already the press is starting to make us out to be the villains for this piece. ‘Housing association fat cat CEOs’ headlines are already starting to appear and a Channel 4 News investigation into the sector paints us as expensive and idle when compared to our private sector peers. Continue reading