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Did you know that customers can volunteer their time to improve the way Bromford delivers its services from a customer perspective?

Andy Dunham is chair of the Staffordshire and the Marches Locality Influence Network (LIN) and also sits on the Customer and Communities Influence Network (CCIN). These networks exist so that Bromford can engage with customers like Andy and collect their thoughts and feedback, just as it collects feedback via neighbourhood coaches, engineers, and social media for example.

It’s a bit like being a ‘mystery shopper’ but instead each group is encouraged to make constructive challenges based on customer insight data and wider conversations with colleagues and customers.

As customers, they get involved for many reasons. As well as holding Bromford to account it is a great way for customers to promote the values of social housing, learn new skills, and meet new people.

Andy said, “Having moved to our new home at Beacon Park Retirement Village in Lichfield in 2018, my wife Irene and I decided that we must get involved since it is our home, and we should all be passionate about where we live.

“Eventually I was asked if I would like to contribute more to the organisation and was invited to attend the LIN with Irene. We now meet every two months, so far only by Zoom, and I have been voted in as chair.

“I also now represent our LIN at the CCIN, which also meets every two months, and with representatives of the other LINs, together with Bromford board member Sarah Simpson who is the chair, we both learn a huge amount about policies, Bromford's plans, and have the opportunity to discuss our ideas.

“I think learning something new each meeting, whether it's about new rules and ideas, just getting other people’s views, and being able to discuss things at a high and low level, makes me feel alive, and that I am still able to contribute.

“As we get older, there is sometimes the feeling that you become invisible. This is a great way of feeling alive and still valued and I get to see the amazing diversity of experience, ideas, and talent within the colleague and customer community.

“I hope the input Irene and I offer can make a difference. Furthermore, we hope we can pass the information back through to our residents here so that they feel more in touch and in tune with their landlord.

“Clearly our focus is on the retirement living part of Bromford, which is a tiny part of the organisation, and there is also the debate as to whether a housing association should be working in that specialised area. So, continuing in our roles will help us to contribute generally to the whole debate.”

On top of that, Andy and Irene have been involved in some Stage 2 complaint work which brings another aspect to their learning as they bring a wider outlook to the colleague and customer view.

Finally, Bromford’s forthcoming YouMatter service to capture the voice of customers will help the LINs and CCIN reflect on the wider customer experience.

Andy added, “I’m so glad I got involved. Customers can be apprehensive at the thought of volunteering but once they start, they really enjoy it and are supported in every way.”

If you are interested in joining one of the four LIN groups, please contact our customer involvement officer