Work starts on three sites to build more than 430 homes across the West Midlands

Posted on February 25th, 2021 by Elaine Davies

Work has started on three separate sites across the West Midlands to build more than 430 homes.

We are working with Vistry Partnerships on the three developments and, once complete, they will provide more than 240 affordable homes across the West Midlands.

The three developments include:

Our Executive Director of Development Nick Byrne said: “We’re pleased to be working with Vistry Partnerships again and that work has started on all three of these sites across the West Midlands to provide more than 430 homes.

“Each site will feature a considerable amount of affordable housing which will help with the housing demand in the area.

“We’re looking forward to seeing these sites develop over the coming months.”

Vistry Partnership’s Divisional Managing Director, James Warrington, said: “It’s fantastic to see work underway on these three new developments with Citizen which are going to provide hundreds of affordable homes across the West Midlands and transform some previously redundant brownfield sites in the process.

“Each of these developments offers something unique, and when combined, they will be a major boost to the region’s housing, giving local people a great opportunity to get on the property ladder.”

Overall, we are working with Vistry Partnerships to build more than 1,000 homes together, with a further 600 properties already under development at the former Lea Castle hospital in Kidderminster.

Posted in Uncategorized | No Comments

‘It is time to end the ‘customer’ or ‘tenant’ debate and start offering better services’ – our Director of Customer Services writes for Inside Housing

Posted on February 12th, 2021 by Elaine Davies

Our Director of Customer Services Lourdes Sharpe has written a comment piece for Inside Housing.

Inside Housing is the leading monthly magazine for housing professionals in the UK.

Throughout the piece Lourdes talks about how the people who live in our homes consider themselves customers and expect a service comparable with the other businesses they use.

She highlights the importance of meeting these expectations and how at Citizen we recognised we needed to do much better.

You can read the full article below or on the Inside Housing website.

Whatever we choose to call them, the people who live in our homes consider themselves customers and expect a service comparable with the other businesses they use. We must meet these expectations.

For too long in housing we have treated the people who use our services differently.

Over the years I have been part of many conference sessions and debates which centre around whether the people who live in our homes are tenants, residents or customers. But is there really any value in asking this question?

Even though as housing associations we are rightly proud of the impact we have in our communities – although we provide unique services and it’s true that our product is often one of need rather than choice – everyone who accesses our services is a customer and their experience must reflect this.

Most importantly, the experience of our customers must meet their expectations. When other sectors are constantly driving experience forward in new and innovative ways, the challenge for us is to keep up.

Because our customers will, understandably, not give us wiggle room. If they get a seamless experience with the likes of Amazon or ASOS, then that is what they will expect from us – and there’s no reason why we can’t provide it.

The longer we see ourselves as different, the greater the risk that we fail to recognise the need to meet this standard. To make sure that the interactions our customers have with us are the best they can be.

At Citizen we recognised we needed to do much better. Although the scarce feedback we were receiving from customers showed our teams were doing work which our customers valued, we didn’t have anywhere near enough intelligence, and on customer experience it was clear that we needed to raise our game significantly.

To guide this, we wanted a detailed understanding of what was working and what was not in the eyes of our customers. We first commissioned a research organisation to survey thousands of customers to get a detailed sense of how they rated our service and what their perception of us was.

Over the past two years we have set about transforming our customer experience in response to this intelligence.

This has included the creation of a Citizen First training programme, which has seen every member of staff in our organisation receive focused customer service training.

We have just recruited a new customer committee, using an innovative recruitment campaign to attract a diverse pool of customers who will shape our services through online interaction.

We’ve also rebranded and transformed our website and customer portal and, crucially, introduced a new customer experience platform used by the likes of Sky to give us real-time feedback. This has transformed our understanding of our customers and allowed us to be more responsive than ever.

The new platform means we can assess customer satisfaction and sentiment in real time and deal with issues immediately. We now receive 5,000 pieces of immediate individual feedback directly related to services that customers have received every month.

This means we know much more about that we are doing well and where we can improve. It adds a new layer of accountability among our teams and motivates them to provide the best service they can – joining the dots between individual contribution and customer satisfaction.

This feedback has already allowed us to make often small but impactful changes to the way we provide services and we can already see the result in our satisfaction scores, which are now regularly around 4.5 out of 5 – another tool we can use to motivate colleagues to continue to provide a great service.

Our objective to improve our customer offer is far from complete – in fact, for any organisation it is never complete.

The challenge for us, and for all housing organisations, is meeting the increasingly high expectations that our customers have for the experience they receive. And that applies whether they are receiving round-the-clock care or a simple repair transaction.

Tenant, resident, leaseholder or any other person who receives our services, there’s no doubt at all that they are customers and that’s how we need to treat them.

Lourdes Sharpe, Director of Customer Services, Citizen

Posted in Uncategorized | No Comments

We’re improving our apprenticeship scheme

Posted on February 9th, 2021 by Elaine Davies

This year we are going to improve our apprenticeship scheme.

The new programme will encourage the progression of more young people to support talent development and succession planning in our organisation.

We are committed to recruiting 12 new apprentices in 2021/2022 and 12 in 2022/2023. This means we’ll have over 30 apprentices at Citizen over the next two years.

Our apprenticeship scheme is an important part of our objective in our 2020-23 business strategy to become an employer of choice.

Apprenticeships are paid trainee roles which combine hands on work with training and relevant qualifications, and each apprentice must carry out structured and meaningful work within their role and spend at least 20% of their work time on off-the-job training.

This means they can work towards achieving an approved apprenticeship qualification.

The individual apprenticeships last between 12 months and five years depending on the role.

Currently we have six apprentices – four within the Maintenance Operations directorate and two within the Finance directorate.

Our Director of People Matt Posaner said: “This year we’re planning to increase our apprenticeship programme and offer more apprenticeships across the organisation.

“We’ve always provided a higher number of apprenticeships in the past, mainly within our maintenance and housing functions, and it has been very successful with several of those apprentices now working with us at managerial level.

“We’ve also previously won several regional and national apprenticeship awards for the scheme so it would be good to get it running again at a higher level.”

We’re aiming to provide apprenticeships across the business in Maintenance, Housing, Customer Services, Care and Support, Asset Management and Safety, Transformation, Treasury, Assurance and Procurement, IT, HR, Communications and our Executive Leadership PA team.

Posted in Uncategorized | No Comments

The new Citizen-led webinar which will share best practice in communications

Posted on February 8th, 2021 by Elaine Davies

A new Citizen-led webinar will share best practice in Communications and PR.

Comms Clinic will be a regular, live, interactive, hour-long webinar which brings in guest speakers with a focus on a different communications topic each time.

It is being advertised to everyone who works in the communications sector and more than 40 professionals have already signed up for the first Comms Clinic on 3 March – which will focus on internal communications.

Steve Hayes, our Head of Communications, who will host the new webinar, said: “We’ve done a huge amount of work to improve the communications function at Citizen and this puts us in a great position to be able to share best practice.

“Being a thought leader in our sector and region is one of our strategic objectives. There is huge value to Citizen in providing an informal place where fellow professionals can share best practice, network and take away practical ideas that they can implement in their organisations.

“My hope is that we can use Comms Clinic as a pilot for what could become a bigger programme of webinars that would cover a range of topics. We have so many great people in our organisation that I think this could be a great way for us to put ourselves on the map.

“The response to Comms Clinic has been quite amazing. We launched it last week and already have 40 professionals signed up to our first clinic on 3 March – including people from fellow housing organisations, local authorities, police forces, water companies and agencies.”

Visit our Comms Clinic web page to find out more.

If you know someone who might be interested, please share the details with them.

Posted in Uncategorized | No Comments

We’re a Coventry City of Culture 2021 Club Member

Posted on February 4th, 2021 by Elaine Davies

Did you know that Citizen is a Coventry City of Culture 2021 Club Member?

Coventry’s year as UK City of Culture starts in May 2021. For a whole year, Coventry will celebrate the city with events, music, dance, theatre, and large-scale spectacle.

We join 140 companies across Coventry as a 2021 Club Member by donating £10,000 to the project over the last four years.

Our Head of Communications Steve Hayes said: “It’s fantastic that we’re a 2021 Club Member for Coventry City of Culture this year.

“As the largest landlord in Coventry we should definitely be showing our support for this important project.

“As well as being a 2021 Club Member and all the benefits that brings for us in terms of brand association we are also hoping to work with Coventry City of Culture’s Corporate Development Team to develop an idea for Citizen which will enable us to put our own mark on the project.

“I’m really looking forward to supporting Coventry City of Culture this year. It’s a really exciting time for Coventry!”

Nicole Malatesta, Corporate Development Manager at Coventry City of Culture Trust, added: “Coventry won the UK City of Culture title for many reasons. This includes the backing of a wide range of local and regional companies such as Citizen.

“The 2021 Club are instrumental to our ambitious plans for Coventry’s year in the spotlight, enabling us to engage national audiences, attract new visitors, and empower every Coventry resident to reap the benefits of cultural participation.

“Thank you Citizen for all our support. Funding from our 2021 Club Members will allow us to stage events which will be enjoyed by all – and demonstrate the depth of artistic talent within our area. I can’t wait to see it all start to come to life in May!”

Previous Cities of Culture have experienced a major boost in tourism and have also benefited from an increase in investors opening new businesses.

Find out more about Coventry City of Culture here.

Posted in Uncategorized | No Comments

Work starts on our Thimblemill Road development in Smethwick

Posted on February 2nd, 2021 by Elaine Davies

Work has started to build 24 homes at Thimblemill Road in Smethwick.

Citizen are working with Tricas Construction and Build Fifty5 Living to develop the properties which will all be affordable homes.

The development will be made up of 12 apartments, seven two-bedroom homes and five three-bedroom homes.

The homes are being built on the site of the former Thimblemill pub, an area which has been derelict for a number of years.

Executive Director of Development at Citizen Nick Byrne said: “It’s brilliant that work has started on this development on a site which has been unused for a number of years.

“There is a need for affordable housing in this area and it will be good to provide this for people living locally.

“We’re pleased to have worked with Build Fifty5 Living who unlocked the opportunity and look forward to seeing the development progress on site with Tricas Construction.”

Managing Director at Tricas Construction Chris Gibbs said: “It’s good to be working with Citizen on this development which will enhance the existing site.

“We’re looking forward to seeing this development progress over the coming months.”

The development is set for completion in April 2022.

Posted in Uncategorized | No Comments