Thirteen customers join forces to strengthen their voice

Housing provider Thirteen has created a new committee that will give customers a bigger say in how the landlord delivers services across the North East and Yorkshire.


10 Feb 2023

The committee includes five customers as well as Katy Wilburn (board member) and Winsome Small (member of Thirteen's audit and risk committee). The committee will report to the Thirteen board to make sure services are influenced by customers, and that they meet customers’ expectations.

As part of their role, the committee will look at Thirteen’s recent feedback and performance information to give their perspective on the services and business decisions that have an impact on customers.

The group will also review reports from involved customers to give assurance to the board that Thirteen is compliant with the standards that housing associations need to meet.

The customers that have recently joined the committee bring a range of different skills and experience and have spoken about the insight and ideas they hope to bring to Thirteen.

Thornaby resident Dawn Keogh is a mother of four daughters who is passionate about making a positive difference for the future generation.

Dawn first got involved with Thirteen when she joined the Social Housing Tenants' Climate Jury, a customer group looking at ways to tackle climate change in homes and neighbourhoods.

Her role in the climate change jury is what motivated Dawn to join the customer committee, which she describes as an exciting next step in helping to improve services and opportunities for other customers of Thirteen.

She said: “Climate change is still a big interest of mine and I hope to promote the benefits of making homes more sustainable.

“I’m a big believer in equal opportunities for everyone, and as a customer committee member at Thirteen, I hope to make sure people know where to turn to for support when they need it.”

Ryan Davis, a customer committee member from Stockton, has lived most of his life in Teesside and has recently started his career in children’s social care reform.

He is a graduate from Teesside University, where he studied Criminology and Youth Studies. He was successful in applying for a scholarship from Thirteen for the last two years of his studies at university and says that joining the customer committee is a way for him to repay the faith Thirteen showed in him.

Ryan said: “My personal experience means I know the challenges and barriers that young people in Teesside can often face, and I want to make a difference by helping people who are in a similar position as I was as a young person.

“I’m passionate about listening to people and I’m always thinking about how I can make change happen. I’m looking forward to helping other Thirteen customers, by working with the organisation to make sure services are the best they can be.”

Yaadam Sarr, a customer committee member from Stockton, has been a Thirteen customer for two years after moving to the UK from Canada in 2017.

She has a degree in business administration, which she describes as one of her biggest achievements, and her professional background includes experience in customer service, accounting and finance.

Yaadam said: “As a mother of three young children, I was interested in joining the customer committee as an opportunity to give back to my community in a way that fits around my busy lifestyle.

“I’m passionate about engaging in activities that improve the welfare of people and communities, and I hope that my insight will have a positive impact on the lives of other Thirteen customers.”

Russell Jameson, a customer committee member from Middlesbrough, is a fire fighter who has spent the last 15 years keeping people and communities in Teesside safe.

He is a father of three children who is passionate about his local area.

Russell said: “I got involved in the customer committee because I want to make a positive impact in local communities.

“As a dad, I care about the opportunities available to young people in the area and I know how challenging it can be for people to get a good break in life, so I’m keen to do what I can to help young people living in Thirteen properties.”

Val Scollen, a customer committee member from Billingham, is also chair of Thirteen's customer involvement framework.

Val has a great deal of experience as an involved customer and, is proud to have been involved in housing for over 21 years.

Val said: "Customers are at the heart of decision making at Thirteen, and joining the customer committee is a fantastic way for me to continue to help make a real difference in our communities.

"I'm passionate that everyone's voice is heard, and excited to play my part as a customer committee member."

The customer committee will meet at least four times a year and will also have the opportunity to give their feedback in areas such as home repairs, customer communication, tenant satisfaction measures, complaints handling and sustaining positive engagement with other customers.

Matt Forrest, Thirteen’s chief executive, said: “Customers are at the heart of our decision making at Thirteen, which is why the set up of our new committee is such an important step forward in enhancing the customer voice and making sure the views of people in our communities are represented.

“We’re delighted to have five of our customers join the committee and we’re looking forward to working with them to help deliver a great experience for customers now and in the future.”

There are a number of ways that Thirteen customers can get involved in projects to help improve services, neighbourhoods and opportunities. Find out more on the Thirteen website at Get Involved - Thirteen (