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Hear from involved customer, Val Scollen
Val Scollen, chair of Thirteen’s customer involvement framework, explains what it’s like to be an involved customer and the opportunities to influence services…
Customers are at the heart of decision making at Thirteen, which is why I’m proud to have been involved for over 21 years.
My husband, Jim Scollen, is also an involved customer leading on consumer standards. Together, with other involved customers, we feel that we can make a real difference in our community and that our views matter.
As chair of Thirteen’s involvement framework, I have the opportunity to attend quarterly board meetings and hear about performance and upcoming work. It’s fantastic to be able to collaborate with the other board members and offer a customer perspective on a range of topics and issues. Everyone’s voice is heard and there’s such a positive ’Team Thirteen’ feel at the meetings.
In my recent work with the board, I attended an away day to visit a variety of Thirteen’s properties and get an insight into how they’re managed and the neighbourhood improvements that are needed. These visits are great as there’s real transparency between colleagues and customers, which means we can give informed feedback and we are listened to.
As well as helping to shape services delivered by Thirteen, I’ve also been part of national discussions about social housing. I recently got the chance to share my feedback with the Northern Housing Consortium about the ongoing review of the Decent Homes Standard, which sets the minimum standard for housing that organisations like Thirteen must meet. It’s really rewarding to know that by being part of such an important conversation, my views could help to shape the future of customers’ homes.
I always enjoy catching up with other involved customers, too. By being involved, I’ve met some great people and formed friendships along the way. There are lots of ways to share our views with Thirteen, such as meeting in person, through a video call or an online survey, which means that no two days are the same.
Involved customers work closely with Thirteen’s customer engagement team and colleagues are really supportive. They help us with any training requirements and keep us up to date with the work that’s happening at Thirteen, so we can get involved in the projects that we’re interested in.
Building my confidence has been a huge benefit of being involved and it means that I feel much more comfortable when it comes to meeting new people and sharing ideas.
One of my highlights is our customer open day, which is a chance for Thirteen customers and colleagues to get together and celebrate the work of involved customers. At our latest event, we discussed Thirteen’s plans to deliver greener, more efficient homes, as well as tackling the stigma often associated with social housing, where we were joined by a representative from the Chartered Institute of Housing. We also heard from Thirteen’s new chair, Jane Earl and the chief executive, Ian Wardle.
The event had a fantastic turn out and we welcomed lots of new faces, including customers that have since signed up to get involved with Thirteen. As an ambassador for customer involvement and the chair, I meet with new involved customers to welcome them and have a chat about the different ways they can share their views.
Having a voice for other customers and passing on their feedback, queries and concerns to Thirteen colleagues is really important to me. I have recently supported a building safety project, where we met with customers in Thirteen’s high-rise properties to find out more about how safe they feel in their homes. This is another important topic for Thirteen and it was interesting to get an insight into how customers are feeling and how this feedback will be used.
Another opportunity I’ve enjoyed is being on the recruitment panels for job roles at Thirteen, including the touchpoint team, community resilience and asset management. I always look forward to opportunities like these, as I get to meet new talent and play an active role in finding the right people to deliver services for customers.
I’d recommend being involved as it’s a great way to have your say and help to make improvements to the services that matter to you. If you'd like to find out more, please get in touch with the customer engagement team by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.