We engaged with 93 new customers through the Involvement Menu

We’re committed to giving customers a voice. As we are a Community Gateway housing association, we encourage customers to get involved with our work and our Gateway Membership Team is made up of tenants and people from our local communities. In 2020/21, they continued to represent residents and inform what we do, working closely with our Group Board.

Representing you

Like everyone, the Gateway Membership Team had to adapt to new ways of doing things in order to continue its work throughout the pandemic. The team’s members embraced virtual meetings and carried on working closely with us on several projects throughout the year. 

This included regular joint meetings with our Group Board, working closely and strategically together to represent the views of customers and their needs, and maintaining an ongoing two-way relationship between the business and our customer representatives.

In September 2020 we held our first virtual Annual General Meeting, with members being invited to join the session on Zoom as social distancing meant that we were unable to meet in person. Following the success of the virtual AGM, we will continue offering members the option to join future meetings from the comfort of their own home by using video conferencing – and in light of the ongoing concerns around coronavirus in 2021, this year’s AGM will again be fully virtual. 

To ensure that the Gateway Membership Team can represent tenants on key issues, they received training in important areas including data protection, risk and finance – helping to give them a greater understanding of some of the things that influence Watford Community Housing’s decision-making. They also welcomed two new members in 2020/21, with Elizabeth Hendley and Steven Howell joining up to offer their insight to the team.

The Gateway Membership Team are always on the lookout for new members, so if you would like to make your voice heard and have your say in what we do, please get in touch. You can find out more here.

Supporting residents

In light of the pandemic, lots of the Gateway Membership Team’s work in 2020/21 focused on finding ways to support people in our communities who have been affected by coronavirus. 

The team assessed a range of bids and approved the projects that have been selected for funding as part of our Customer Promise commitment to invest £1 million into community projects between 2020 and 2025 . These included our Welfare Fund, which is helping people who have been hit financially by the crisis, and in June 2020 we ran an online Tenant Question Time event to provide information and answer questions about our response to the pandemic.

2 new members joined the 
Gateway Membership Team

We worked with 8 tenant/residents’ associations and 2 community groups

We provided 35 funded training places

Looking ahead

During the year, the Gateway Membership Team also started to work with us on some key projects that will be delivered in 2021/22. 

The team began working with us on a new set of resident involvement options to encourage tenants to engage with us about what we do and how we are run. We will be launching a new framework which is designed to make it as easy as possible for people to get involved with our work in a way that suits them. This will be a core part of our commitment to engaging with residents and we will be providing more information about this at our Annual General Meeting in September 2021. 

We will also be launching a Green Strategy, which will look at how we can lower our carbon footprint. This will include making sure that customers’ homes are well-insulated and energy-efficient, so that they are cheaper to run as well as being better for the environment. 

Last year we began discussions with the Gateway Membership Team on this strategy and we will carry out a full resident consultation so that everyone has the chance to have their say on how we can be more environmentally sustainable.

In addition, the Gateway Membership Team approved our plans to introduce a new Home Standard, which will set out exactly what customers can expect us to provide both inside their home and in communal and outdoor areas. 

A word from the Gateway Membership Team

Chris Blackett, Chair of the Gateway Membership Team, commented on the work of the team and our performance during 2020/21:

“During the pandemic, Watford Community Housing have worked incredibly hard to make sure that all tenants have the support they need. It has been a very difficult year for so many of us, but we have been pleased with how everyone has pulled together to try to make things better and carry on providing our services and keep people safe. 

In particular, the Repairs team have done incredibly well to work within the restrictions and make sure our homes are well maintained. We’re glad that Watford Community Housing avoided furloughing any staff and everyone has done a really good job under the circumstances – especially compared to some other organisations, which closed their offices and cut more services to tenants.

The Gateway Membership Team has kept working throughout this time to represent tenants and I’m proud of how we embraced the video conferencing technology to continue our work despite the restrictions. 

We’re looking forward to getting back to some of the things we weren’t able to do in 2020/21, such as our scrutiny work to oversee individual services in person, and we will be making it even easier for people to get involved – so if you would like to join us in our work, we would love to hear from you!”