The content in this article may now be out of date. Please try searching for a more recent version.
What does getting involved in Bromford service improvements and development entail? Here we talk to Denise Cunningham, member of the Customer and Communities Network (CCN), who tells us more.
It was my housing manager that originally suggested I got involved with Bromford. She said that there was an open day to recruit new people to the CCN and she thought I’d be an ideal candidate. I’d not really thought about it before, but I wanted to make sure that customers had a voice at Bromford and so I went along.
It was quite a quite a tough recruitment process, there was an assessment day where we worked in two groups to review performance information and we had to give our thoughts on what we’d seen and then I had a short interview with a housing manager. I was so chuffed to have been successful and that alone boosted my confidence.
My first CCN meeting was a bit daunting because you’ve got Bromford directors and board members there, but I soon realised that everyone was lovely and really down to earth. What amazed me was the amount of discussion that goes into every single decision. Before being involved I honestly thought that the people in charge of Bromford sat behind big desks, with no comprehension about what life’s like for us, but that’s really not the case.
CCN meets every three months and ahead of the meetings we get an agenda and a pack of information to go through. The idea is that we look at it from the customer perspective, raising any issues or asking questions that we think are important. In the beginning I was really anxious about it all, but I have to say that I look forward to the meetings and reading what’s happening now, as I do feel like I have a voice on behalf of all customers.
Being on CCN has also meant that I’ve had an opportunity to get involved in other ways. I sit on the Independent Complaints Panel, where I review complaints to ensure that Bromford have considered all the points and the outcome is fair for the customer.
I’ve also been involved in a project that aims to help customers heat their homes in an affordable way. This was great for me as I used to be a domestic energy surveyor – so I could bring the knowledge I had to help Bromford customers. Again, being involved in this project really highlighted to me how in-depth Bromford looks at things before making a decision and how much effort they put into looking at things from a customer perspective.
The most recent thing I’ve been involved in is recruitment of Bromford colleagues. Emma, who’s an existing Bromford colleague, brought a candidate out to my home so that she could see how she interacted with me and whether she had all the right personal skills they were looking for. For me as a customer that was really reassuring to know that Bromford weren’t putting just anyone in the role.
My advice to anyone thinking of getting involved is just to give it a go. It gives customers a voice and it also builds your own skills and confidence. You don’t have to join CCN, you could get involved from the comfort of your own home through social media or email. It all counts and from my experience it definitely makes a difference.