My name is Julie Clark, and I’m the neighbourhood manager for Habinteg’s, schemes in Central and East England. Habinteg has properties across England, spanning 86 different local authorities, and no two schemes are the same. All of our homes are accessible, because we want to create communities where disabled and non-disabled people can live together as neighbours. Every day, my team and I work hard to ensure our tenants are safe and have a great place to call home.
When planning improvements and community initiatives, we believe the tenant voice is powerful and we put the tenants’ needs at the heart of everything we do. Our tenant led improvement initiative goes one step further, and puts the resources in the hands of the community.
The tenant led improvement budget is a pot of money to enable tenants to make improvements to their scheme. How this money is spent is completely down to them. The tenants lead the project and we’re on hand to offer support, advice and ensure they get value for money.
During my time as neighbourhood manager we’ve done many things with the tenant led improvement budget including events, painting lines for disabled parking bays and making improvements to communal gardens. Some tenants have even rolled-up their sleeves and helped out with a few jobs outdoors which is great for their mental health. It’s been really fulfilling to watch the tenants’ ideas come to fruition, and see how getting involved makes a difference to tenants. We had one tenant who never left his bungalow until one of the garden projects came up. Now he has made some great friends in the community and you’ll constantly catch him chatting to neighbours.
There are many benefits that come with tenant led community improvements. It creates a feeling of community and belonging amongst tenants, both disabled and non-disabled, and brings people together. We usually see a reduction in anti-social behaviour when we undertake improvements and children that live on the scheme can also become familiar with their neighbours, creating a safer environment. The final outcome really has a positive impact on tenants, and it helps them feel like their voices are being heard and their needs are being met.
I love seeing the impact tenant-led projects have on our communities first hand. Getting together to work on something to benefit everyone on scheme can have particularly positive impact on the lives of disabled tenants who might not ordinarily get out and about as much as their non-disabled neighbours. As we work to improve communities and develop our services as housing providers, I’d like to see us finding more ways to put tenants in the driving seat to make the communities they live in more inclusive and welcoming, a place they’re proud to call home.