Tenants play a VITAL role in shaping housing policy
Tenants have come together in a new group that will have an influential role on how council housing services are managed in Leeds.
The newly formed Voice of Involved Tenants Across Leeds (VITAL) represents a broad spectrum of tenants from existing tenant groups across the city.
As well as working together to ensure each group achieves its aims, the volunteers now give tenants a clearer say on housing by co-ordinating tenant consultation on major policy changes, improving communication between each forum and tenants to keep people informed and take any concerns to Housing Leeds.
With a clear role to influence decisions at a strategic level, members of VITAL will be linking their work to that of the Housing Advisory Board so they can consider the impact of decisions before they are made.
One of the first priorities for VITAL is to work with staff from Housing Leeds to help tenants with changes as a result of universal credit.
Councillor Debra Coupar, executive member for communities, said:
“We already have a small army of dedicated volunteers who are as passionate as we are about improving housing services.
“Bringing these groups together under the VITAL banner gives them a real strategic focus and an opportunity for us to work with tenants to shape services that suits their needs.
“We’re always looking for people to get involved and that doesn’t always mean coming to a formal meeting. We’d love it if people could join us on estate walkabouts, complete surveys or conduct mystery shopping for us or even just follow us on Twitter and Facebook.”
Tracey McGarry, a representative from the Young Adults getting involved group said:
“It’s really important that we’re able to bring the priorities and concerns of each of our groups to the table so that our voices are heard at the highest level to help shape council housing in Leeds.
“It’s a two way street though, and we’ll be working just as hard to help share information about the decisions made back to our fellow tenants and neighbours.
“We’re a diverse group that represents a wide range of tenants. But we’re all united because we want to make a difference.”
The VITAL group is currently made up of volunteers representing nine groups:
- Housing Advisory Panels – groups of tenants who help shape local communities by investing in environmental or community related projects.
- Leeds Tenants Federation – champions of tenants and residents associations.
- Rainbow Roofs – representing lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender tenants, working with Housing Leeds to review and develop policies that meet needs of LGBT while stamping out discrimination.
- High Rise Advisory Group– for tenants living in high rise, multi-storey blocks, meeting to discuss high rise living and how this affects their community
- Voice of Older Tenants (VOLT) – representing older tenants and those in sheltered accommodation, discussing older people’s priorities and support needed to help people live independently in their own homes for as long as they want.
- Equal Access Group – representing tenants with disabilities, long term health conditions and carers
- YAgi (Young Adults getting involved) – for tenants aged 16 to 35, providing a voice to help shape housing services and improve neighbourhoods
- BITMO – representing tenants from the Belle Isle Tenant Management Organisation
- Repairs Focus Groups – linking with repairs team and contractors.
Anyone interested in the work of VITAL and tenant involvement can find it on the council’s website.