Category Archives: Community

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

Customer Involvement’s Wolfey: Take-aways from the TPAS Conference

This is my longest blog yet but I’m still excited about the TPAS Conference I went to with my fellow Customer Involvement Officer Lynn Cullen in July and there’s loads to share from it. TPAS stands for Tenant Participatory Advice Service and they believe in tenants and landlords working together to build great communities.

TPAS has the largest annual conference in the UK for social housing tenants and providers. It’s a two day event with sixteen workshops to choose from and an opportunity to meet tenants and officers from around the country. Lynn has been to this before but it was my first time and I was really looking forward to it – despite the early start to get to Warwick for 10am.

Having arrived at Chesford Grange in good time, the place was already busy and I met Alison Inman and Rob Gershon who were promoting SHOUT. This is a campaign for affordable and fair social housing and for new social rented houses to be built. Their vision is that different tenures are seen as equal and that no type of rented property is seen as inferior to another. Continue reading

Customer Involvement’s Wolfey: Wonder-ful support for our armed forces

You might have seen the march for Armed Forces Day in Bolton Town Centre on 27 June. The Wonder Woman Group in Hall i’ th’ Wood also put on a celebration event at the Greenway Community Centre, with a number of members having personal reasons to pay tribute.

The Wonder Woman Group meets 1-3pm every Tuesday at the centre and they’re supported by Christine Fitton – our UCAN Centre Project Officer from Tonge Moor. They’re one of the first groups I got to know and I’ve been impressed by their strength and support for each other.

The group offers positive activities to gain confidence, new skills and learn about support services. You’re guaranteed a warm welcome if you fancy popping in to see if it’s for you. Continue reading

Customer Involvement’s Wolfey: Bosses, jobs and doing things differently

Our team met with Noel Sharpe, our new Customer and Community Director, plus I went to a briefing for all staff from our Chief Executive Jon Lord. Both talked about ‘Thinking differently, working differently to become one organisation.’

Jon explained how we need to review our services by looking at the whole customer journey from start to end as a way of better understanding our customers’ needs, experiences and knowing what we need to do.

Noel talked about how we can strengthen the links between housing services and customer involvement services so we can respond better to customers’ needs.

Coming from housing services to customer involvement (I was an interventions officer on the Preventative and Enabling Team, which provides support for the most vulnerable people in Bolton), this was music to my ears.

Continue reading