New blog: By Vicky Bannister

Vicky Bannister, Director of Housing Management at Wigan and Leigh Housing will take part in the opening session of the North Conference. We asked her to tell us what she hopes to talk about with delegates: This is taken from her ’20 shades of social housing’ blog.

‘We wanna be together’……who remembers that annoying TV ad from the early 1990s? The couple who sat on a couch with very different ideas about where they wanted to be in the future. Well hopefully the work we do in conjunction with our tenants is summed up well with this phrase, but we have made sure our efforts are better matched than the couple in the ad. Way back before Christmas 2012 we started talking to tenants about what impacts welfare reform may have and what the consequences would be for them. Our staff visited forums and board meetings to talk about the changes ahead and we quickly realised stats and facts were not getting the messages across. The official messages were somewhat ignored. So we stopped, listened and changed. Our workshop will give practical examples of how we achieved this with tenants taking the lead. Tenants trust other tenants way more than they trust official messages so come and hear how we got this information into communities. Our tenants very quickly helped us change the tone of discussions. And they changed our thinking as well. The solutions that tenants came up with went beyond the usual, but they were listening to what we were saying. When we changed the way we explained the changes our tenants came forward to tell their stories, our real life examples, and the stars of the show! It’s much easier to understand what’s happening to Gladys and think… will the same happen to me? Rather than be presented with a list of facts you then have to try to imagine if they apply to you. Has it worked? Don’t get me wrong it’s not perfect, but it has encouraged our tenants to think and most importantly ask for help. We look forward to sharing our experiences at the TPAS conference”. 

For more information about the TPAS North opening session visit the North programme page by clicking here