Tenant and resident forums cross county borders
Published by Tracey Errington for Eden Housing Association Limited in Housing and also in Care and Support, Communities
Earlier this month, over 50 members of Housing Association Tenant and Resident Forums from across Cumbria and North Lancashire came together as a ‘Regional Forum’ for a visit to Eden Housing Association’s (EHA) Heysham Gardens Extra Care scheme in Carlisle. This inaugural cross border ‘exchange visit’ stimulated discussion and activities that could be replicated or adapted within their own local groups.
The Cumbria and North Lancashire Tenant and Resident Forum meets on a regular basis, but felt that to inspire new ideas, each group would play host, creating the chance to benchmark, gather information and develop new opportunities.
Eileen Soulsby from Penrith is the newly appointed Chair of the Regional Forum. As an Eden Housing Association tenant and member of ECHO (Tenant and Resident Association), Eileen invited the cross county forum to visit EHA’s flagship extra care scheme in Carlisle.
There was a good representation from across the Forum, with members and guests from as far as Lancaster, Barrow, South Lakes and Two Castles Housing Associations.
The visitors were taken on a tour of the scheme, meeting residents who invited the group into their homes. Rachael Thomson, Heysham Gardens Scheme Co-coordinator said “this was a very valuable opportunity to see what living here is really like. Our residents are proud of where they live and happy to discuss how everything works – from service charges to socials and how care is delivered. We think it’s an excellent way for people to get a true reflection of life here.”
Having visited the apartments, members strolled through the gardens, looking at the new displays created during a recent training course, and discussing a variety of ideas to develop some of the land at the back of the scheme. A buffet lunch was served in the café with afternoon entertainment before visitors returned home.
Feedback highlighted that visitors were impressed with the way the scheme has been thought out – with a feeling of space and light, ‘and plenty of room to allow mobility scooters to pass each other in the corridors’. The hairdressing and therapy room also generated a lot of interest.
Eileen Soulsby, Regional Forum Chair said “ this exchange visit format really seemed to work, there were some really good questions and a lot of interaction – plenty for each Forum to take away and develop at home. This is an excellent scheme, and Eden HA should be proud of what they showcased today.”
Summing up the day, Margaret Akrigg, Treasurer of the Forum and member from South Lakes Housing Association said “If we did a show of hands, I think our group would all want to be here!”