Benefits of getting involved

How to get involved - video guide

There are many ways you can get involved to help us improve our service to you.

Members of our tenant scrutiny team have made several recommendations to improve our services. Recently they worked with Property Services on ways to make it possible for tenants to report and track the progress of communal repairs. They also recommended changes that have been adopted to help us speed up how we deal with complaints. Tenants are best placed to make local improvements in their communities. Tenant group successes have included setting up and supporting foodbanks, organising litter picks, supporting local art walks, planting trees and landscaping communal gardens, supporting learning disability projects, organising community events like fayres and BBQs, and establishing community growing areas.

If you'd like to know more about the ways you can participate, just email tenant.involvement@lewes-eastbourne.gov.uk for more information.

Our 'Tenant Involvement Strategy 2019-2022' sets out the many ways you can get involved, whether you have 5 minutes or lots of time to spare. It’s all about how we engage in meaningful consultation and involvement and how what you tell us is used to shape the way that we provide housing services.

The TIE panel is made up of Lewes District and Eastbourne tenants who work with senior managers to discuss any tenant issues or concerns. The panel also oversees the work of the tenant scrutiny team and makes sure tenant interests are fully considered in all aspects of strategic decision making. We are actively looking for Eastbourne and Lewes District tenants to join this group.

Residents' Voice represents the views of Eastbourne residents. The group meets quarterly, and we are working with members to review how we engage in Eastbourne and support residents to influence Homes First policies, services, and performance. Meetings are now open to all tenants and leaseholders in Eastbourne which has encouraged new people to become involved and have their say. Every meeting also has a virtual connection via Microsoft Teams which some have found a valuable aid to participation. 

The Area Panels currently provide residents with the opportunity to get involved in local community activities and provide a forum for learning about Homes First services. We are working with members to re-define the role of the Area Panels acknowledging that many prefer to contact Homes First direct with their questions, rather than attend meetings. However the value of social networking opportunities and getting involved in local communities has been recognised. Currently the Area Panels allocate the community improvements budget in their area for the benefit of local organisations and residents. 

The Tenants Organisation of Lewes District (TOLD) represents the views of tenants across the Lewes District. The TOLD Committee meets quarterly to discuss topical housing issues and Homes First performance. Open meetings are also held twice a year to which guest speakers are invited. The committee also manages a community improvements budget of £20,000 which tenants can apply to for project funding which benefits their community. 

We have a scrutiny team made up of Lewes District and Eastbourne tenants to help us review and improve our housing service on an ongoing basis. Tenant led scrutiny reviews are overseen by the Tenant Involvement and Empowerment panel (TIE) who commission trained tenants to carry out in-depth service reviews on a service area. The scrutiny team make evidence based recommendations to the Homes First Senior Leadership Team (SLT) and agree improvement plans which are monitored by the TIE panel. 

Most recently, the scrutiny team completed a review of the Homes First complaints handling service. They looked at performance reports, procedures and evidence provided by tenants who had made a complaint. Staff involved in complaints handling were also interviewed and discovered that a small team had recently been established to resolve and learn from complaints. However, the review demonstrated that the service was under resourced which meant staff were struggling to cope and “firefighting” rather than learning from the complaints. A report was produced for the Homes First Senior Leadership Team which acknowledged the hard work of staff alongside 24 recommendations for consideration to improve the service.

The work of the scrutiny team demonstrates that when tenants get involved, they can make a difference. 

We have developed a ‘moment in time’ feedback approach to capture your thoughts on a service you have received. Asking for feedback when the experience is fresh in your mind gives us great insight and helps us to improve and develop our services. We are currently running transactional surveys for our complaints service and planned maintenance works via email and text.

We are piloting an approach to involve residents in checking the quality of our communal cleaning service in retirement housing. Once the pilot is complete, we will review how it went and explore how to extend the approach to other schemes. 

These are informal, but structured discussion groups with other tenants which allow you to share your views and shape key services, such as the allocations process. 

We hope to agree a joint retirement housing forum made up of Eastbourne and Lewes District tenants which will be made up of representatives from all the retirement housing schemes. Every April members are elected to represent and discuss the views and specific needs of their scheme at the forum.

Every year we aim to hold an event which all tenants are welcome to attend. This is a great way to keep up to date with our services, meet the teams, and network with other tenants. 

The last joint Tenant Conference took place on 14 June and was a great success. 

The Virtual 300 is a way you can get involved and have your say without leaving home. We regularly email members to ask what they think about new policies, service improvement ideas and even competition entries. You can get involved as much or as little as you like, but to encourage participation we give a £50 prize to the most active member every year. 

We also work with our partners at “South East Training Uniting People” (SETUP) to offer free training. Other help, such as out of pocket expenses and advice and support is provided by our dedicated tenant involvement workers.

If you'd like to know more about any of the ways you can participate, just email tenant.involvement@lewes-eastbourne.gov.uk for more information