Friday 22 September 2017

The news is out!

After much soul-searching, I have decided to retire from Wolverhampton Homes, and City of Wolverhampton Council, early in the New Year.  

It’s not been an easy decision, as Wolverhampton Homes is such a fantastic place to work, but I need to move on to the next phase of my life!

I do feel a massive sense of pride in what we have achieved at Wolverhampton Homes over the past decade:
  • Our customers are more satisfied and performance is very high
  • We got our three stars with excellent prospects for improvement – leading to the £300m decent homes programme
  • We became a Times Top 100 employer and a Stonewall Top 100 employer
  • We built the award-winning LEAP programme
  • We made our workplace and our service fairer and more diverse
  • We became recognised nationally and are in the top 50 housing organisations
  • The Council gave us a new 15 year contract and our partnership could not be stronger
  • We are set to deliver additional services by the end of the year, and are already building new homes
  • Tenants can be assured we give value for money and have a secure financial future
  • Our response to fire and other safety issues is second to none.
We’ve achieved so much, so it seems a good time for me to leave Wolverhampton Homes in the capable hands of my colleagues and look for my dream home in Turkey.

The recruitment for a new Chief Executive has started, as has the hunt for a new Housing Director to carry out the strategic job at the council. The two new heads will work very closely together to ensure that the really effective partnership between Wolverhampton Homes and the Council continues.   

I know that will be the case and I’ve got a few more months before I say farewell, so until then “yakında görüşürüz”.

Tuesday 1 December 2015

Rent First - putting tenants first

This month I've asked Philip Toni, our Director of Resources, to share his thoughts about our annual "Rent First.. please" campaign. He said:

I think chasing debts is one of the most helpful things we do for tenants.

Nobody likes debt chasing.  That's both the people doing it and the people being chased.

If ever l forget to pay a bill l am always worried someone thinks either:
(a) I did it on purpose or
(b) I am having trouble keeping up

Even if the above aren't true a call about an outstanding bill is always a bit uncomfortable.

To be honest, I've spent time in our call centre chasing debt and it's not always that great to be making the calls either.  Sometimes no matter how polite you are, people can get pretty irritable or upset. But, I think it is one of the most important things we do!  And we couldn't be doing it at a better time of year!

The trouble with debt is that it is easy to get out of control.  Also sometimes if you leave things too long sorting it out later could either become demoralising or even impossible. It's a bit like getting something repaired or putting off a visit to the doctors.  Leave it too long and it could end up too late to fix things.

Owing a few weeks' rent may not seem too bad, but bear in mind it is Christmas next month.  Heap on top of rent arrears a bill for Christmas presents and new year celebrations and it is easy to find yourself owing £1,000 + come January.

What we're trying to do with our arrears fortnight is very simple.  We're trying to keep people in their homes.  Ignoring a rent arrear now could mean you find yourself in so much debt come the new year that the problem will be much more difficult if not impossible to sort out.

In that respect debt is very much like grass. Leave it too long and you can't cut it easily - as a worse case it gets simply too bad to cut at all.  Focusing on clearing your rent account now could save you from a mountain of problems later.

Here's to arrears fortnight and a Christmas with less worry about debt!  If you get a letter or a call please see it as an opportunity; our staff are focused and ready and waiting to keep on top of your rent.

You can find out more about the Rent First campaign on the Wolverhampton Homes website.

Thursday 20 August 2015

Pride – in the name of respect

Signing the #NoBystanders pledge

Earlier this month I was amazed and humbled to read about the gay pride rally in Uganda, a country where homosexuality is still illegal and homophobia is widespread.

Despite facing up to 14 years in prison, as well as potential violence, due to their sexual orientation, about 100 people marched in the parade. Their message was clear, they wanted to celebrate who they are and make a stand against discrimination.

When you consider how many countries have seen the sense to legalise same-sex marriages, and how the people of Ireland voted to legalise gay marriage in a referendum, it’s astounding to know that to be gay is still illegal in other countries around the world.
I’m happy that, here in England, we’ve moved on and it’s a far cry from the situation in Uganda. But, there is a but, I still think there is more for us to do. Homosexuality may not be illegal, but homophobia still exists and in particular I believe there is a lot to do to counter transphobia.

At Wolverhampton Homes, we’re working hard to make our organisation a place where anyone can feel comfortable and proud to be themselves, whether they be L, G, B or T and I think we’re really getting there. Our Proud to be Me Network has already helped us gain the 140th position in the Stonewall Top 100 Employers list. We may not be in the top 100 but we were the fastest rising stars last year. To be 140th out of 397, in our first year was a huge achievement. I’m so proud of the work my colleagues have done so far and of what they’ve got planned for the future.

Later this year, all of our staff will take part in our “Respect” training course. This is a training session created and facilitated by our Proud to be Me Network members, they even act in the video clips. They wanted to produce a course to help colleagues understand that every one of us plays a part in ensuring that we are respectful to each other and that it’s up to all of us to challenge anything that could be disrespectful. Earlier this year, a lot of our colleagues and Board members signed the #NoBystanders pledge, we hope that by the end of the course, everyone will sign it.  

The Respect Training course is just one in a long list of wonderful projects that the Proud to be Me Network have been involved in. The passion and commitment of each and every one of the Proud to be Me Network is so clear to see. You can follow what they’re doing on their own blog and if you’d like to chat to them about their work, they’d love to hear from you.

The Proud to be Me Network are determined to continue their work towards being completely LGBT friendly, and with Uganda still on my mind, I’ll ensure that I help them in any way I can.