Song of Ourselves: We’re the Body Electric 1 How MTVH’s Customer Voice Framework and Customer Council’s aims are to repair and revalue homes and people, work, education and skills throughout the lifespan.


Featured Image: Proposal For A Mural by Nottingham university course award winning student Jack Chuang from Taiwan (and Shanghai!) 1.Best Final Year Individual Project on the BEng Product Design and Manufacture  course 2019. 2. Head of Department Award, for being in the the top 10% of students in Mechanical, Material and Manufacturing Engineering in 2019.

MTVH (Metropolitan Thames Valley) Housing has a long community history of working not only with working to provide working age individuals and families with housing they can afford but they also work with refugees, working class communities, older people, in the neighbourhood, in community centres, supported living.

Their stories are our stories. 

In the Customer Council and Customer Voice Framework the Midlands teams (and the same is true of the south, south east and Northern teams) are opening up the way the organisation is working, wants to work to a regional panel of residents who will be working as neighbours but also as scrutineers of the service that is delivered, day to day, week to week, month to month, year to year. 

The Regional Panel meets every three months: through the hard work of Gareth, Nisha and everyone the Customer Voice team champion inside MTVH and in the community and neighbourhoods of our area.

We need to tell the stories of everyone to rebuild our potential and capacity. A housing association alone can’t do it but we can tell the stories of the workers, the residents, the people who are just like us- but unique in their own telling. 

In rebuilding a responsive, accountable local neighbourhood democracy it’s great to see how MTVH is working with Rushcliffe, Nottingham City and County Councils, the housing associations, tenants, private landlords, tenants and united on a view that we need to allow a more unique sense of our collective individualities at home and work. In believing sense of place for every neighbourhood. Every neighbourhood can have its own brand. Below you can see the report to the Customer Council: MTVH is working on repair responsiveness through introducing a one stop platform for residents tempered with encouragement to participate in continuous improvement: MTVH want to foster a culture of continuous learning, improvement and innovation. Gareth and the Customer Voice team headed up by Linda Davis are with the creating the organisational space for the development of local spaces, local stories and a new sense of place, starting with newsletters.

The newsletters come from the community and will grow and develop as more people become involved and participate. Much of the inspiration comes from the housing association’s history andthe Empowering Futures work of Lesley Watson and community food catering champions like Enid Kabanda.

Lesley, Enid and her midlands team are the template for all kinds of social entrepreneurial good that can happen when the intention is there to prove that creativity always wins…..

The question is as active residents, people who work, live, connect in a wider neighbourhood with networks, connections over space and time, how can we work to support his work, to help create the pathways that this kind of energy, entrepreneurship brings into and creates outside the housing association?

Lesley makes the point that the help they’re providing is like intensive care: often people aren’t in a place where they can access other opportunities but for people generally the tlc principle applies also.

Be careful with people, handle with care. Listen and prepare to be interested, engaged, informed, motivated.

An organisation, like a good story, song, harmony, is like a communal meal: always a work in progress.

Just now we’re all working to understand what causes the harms to people across the lifespan and we’re all working so hard to reset the relationships: landlords and tenants: we’re trying to move away from a permanently migrant and precarious workforce into stable work and stable homes with opportunities throughout the lifespan. The wide ranging conversations around the private rented sector need to include social housing, privately owned housing so we can understand more about what we have in common rather than what separates us.

If we keep our hearts in the local while always looking outward: we need to understand what goes right and wrong at the micro and bring this insight to the corporate and back again.

We all know how keen the corporates are to understand that local place is also part of who they are. The trouble is noone is doing the right kind of story telling. Story telling that will reconnect the electric sense of who we are but looking outward, recuperating our eyes, hearts, minds and souls. 

Understanding who we’ve been, who we are and who we can be can help begin re-balance our social deficit. 

It’s a massive undertaking but if we can realise and express the diversities in our local neighbourhood growing opportunities, produce and people we’ll also be bringing the places we live in alive. 

Beautiful streets, pavements, shop signs for every neighbourhood. 

To do this we need a media that really looks closely at the neighbourhood renewal that has gone on throughout our unequal Nottinghamshire, our unequal D2N2 region. 

We all look at things under privileged eyes: we need to see for ourselves and begin to give up the old ways of seeing, become responsive, believe in 100% success for more people, more of the time. 

Modernise Britain for everyone.

If like me you had the opportunity to meet and talk to the new micro businesses, the SMEs and the self employed (I visited hundreds in April this year), you’ll know that really the problems individuals, micros and SMEs have are that they’re just too individual, too locally unique to fit into the old templates, the old ways of doing things. 

We mustn’t ignore that.