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Living ESG: Q&A with NHG’s resident board member

SfH’s Living ESG series attempts to tell the stories behind the data. We want to share example of what ESG reporting means in practice and how it impacts everyday life.

Arike Oke is a resident board member at Notting Hill Genesis. SfH spoke to Arike to understand more about her role and her experiences with NHG.

How has the introduction of resident board members improved communication between NHG and residents?

The change in my time has been from having the governance level ‘Resident Services Committee’ to instead having engaged residents across all governance committees. This is in addition to a group meeting of the engaged residents and resident focused senior staff called the ‘Resident Voices Group’ (RVG). This is chaired by resident board member Stephen Bitti.

The RVG has numerous task and finish groups on items such as ‘mould’ and ‘service charges’. There are also a number of engaged residents on the operations committee, which deals with issues of immediate importance to residents, such as asset maintenance.

So across the governance community at Notting Hill Genesis there is a centrality of residents and resident experience, with the opportunity for residents to contribute to and get involved. 

However, there is a huge distance yet to travel in improving communication to the majority of residents who are not engaged in these ways. The housing officers and property management officers are important parts of this puzzle due to their communication of resident needs upwards as well as their communication outwards to residents. Also, the correspondence generally to residents still needs further attention as the tone of voice of the organisation and the information it pushes out to residents is still not ideal in terms of clarity or good relationship building. 

What are some of the key areas of interest that residents are keen to communicate to NHG?

Repairs – how they are carried out, contractor quality, value for money and timeliness is the biggest area of concern for residents. Repairs which drag on cause a great deal of damage to residents’ wellbeing. Into this area we could also group maintenance, mould etc.

Service charges and rents or other charges are the next area of interest, as residents often feel these charges are often not well explained or clearly apportioned.

Staff contact – ie the turnover of housing officers and the disruption to resident relationships with Notting Hill Genesis at this operational level.

There are many other areas but these would be the top ones often brought up by residents.

What has been the general response to NHG’s first ever Residents Annual Report?

Generally, we have had a good response and it is welcomed by those who have seen it and are aware of it. However, I do think there is still a low awareness among residents across the wider estate beyond engaged and semi engaged residents.

To what extent are residents concerned about NHG’s sustainability efforts?

Residents are very interested in sustainability as it pertains to their homes, especially where it could apply to better insulated homes for example.