Updated: May 10, 2021
Supporting Communities has a new member! We are delighted to welcome Tuath Housing Association, our second member from the Republic of Ireland.
Tuath was established and registered in 2000, awarded Voluntary Housing Status by the Department of the Environment, and is a member of the Irish Council for Social Housing. They provide housing to over 19,000 tenants and currently manage 6,800 homes. The accommodation provided by Tuath Housing is made up of a wide range of dwelling types, including sheltered flats and apartments, family, and supported housing.
In 2018, Tuath Housing embarked on one of the organisation's most ambitious initiatives to date with the introduction of the Tenant Engagement Service. In 2019, their housing team took part in a Tenant Engagement workshop facilitated by Supporting Communities.
Alison O'Gorman, Director of Housing, said, "We researched many organisations in the UK and Europe providing tenant participation support. Supporting Communities was the right fit for us because they shared our vision of tenant engagement. Supporting Communities outlined how we could work in partnership with our residents, using new technologies to increase accessibility to information and to provide feedback, ideas, and information to improve tenant engagement and put effective tenant participation practices into effect."
Since that initial engagement, Tuath has gone from strength to strength. They now have three dedicated Tenant Engagement Officers who work hand in hand with residents, residents' groups, housing service coordinators, and all departments within the Association. In addition, they have established a range of ways for residents to get involved and contribute to the improvement of the organisation.
In 2019, they created a National Tenant Forum, which is open to all residents to give feedback on Tuath's services. Then, in March 2020, the first meeting of the tenant engagement working group took place. The consultation group is made up of Tuath Housing staff and Tuath Housing tenants. Its purpose is to enable staff and tenants to work together to improve Tuath Housing's services and communication with residents.
The tenant engagement working group is currently reviewing and updating Tuath's Tenant Engagement Strategy for release in 2021. The strategy sets out key objectives that will help Tuath achieve its vision of being a leader in tenant engagement, delivering first-class services to tenants, and leading the way in governance and accountability through tenant engagement and participation.
Sean O'Connor, the CEO of Tuath Housing, added, "Our vision is for Tuath Housing to be a leader in tenant engagement in the Irish voluntary and cooperative sector, delivering first-class services to our tenants and leading the way in governance and accountability through tenant engagement and participation. We want our tenants to become an integral part of our business, influencing how services are provided, how decisions are made, and how money is spent".
Margaret Hanrahan, Tenant Engagement Officer, told us, "Engaging with our tenants and establishing a sense of community has always been a top priority for us. As a responsible landlord, we believe that our responsibilities go beyond simply maintaining warm, safe, and secure homes. As well as ensuring safe physical surroundings, we want to make sure that tenants do not feel isolated or disconnected from their surroundings."
During Covid-19, it became clear that connecting residents with their communities and Tuath staff alike was more crucial than ever before. As a result, in 2020, the organisation achieved significant changes in how they communicated and engaged with tenants, especially older residents.
The digital training they provided built tenants' confidence to use online resources to help them stay connected with their families, communities, and Tuath. Digital resources also enabled tenants to take part in a host of virtual events.
Margaret explained, "The new virtual and digital tenant service ensures that our commitment to tenant engagement and excellent customer service is at the forefront of the tenancy services we provide. We are excited to become a member of Supporting Communities so that we can develop and grow a blended approach of face-to-face and virtual tenant participation with our residents.
"We look forward to working with Supporting Communities to put in place the highest tenant participation standards possible and creating a best practice model for the Association. We believe that by listening to, working in partnership with, and providing good information for our residents, we can provide excellent tenancy services.
We are extremely proud of the progress we have made so far. We look forward to growing and developing our tenant-led approach from our membership with Supporting Communities, which is fundamental to Tuath Housing and creating sustainable communities."
Sheenagh McNally, Head of Corporate Services at Supporting Communities, added, "Back in October 2019 when Siobhan and I travelled to Dublin to deliver the TP workshop at Tuath, it was clear we were pushing an open door. The energy and commitment from the staff to embrace and grow their engagement activities was so very evident. It is hardly surprising to learn of the immense progress they've made in such a short period of time, especially when factoring in a global pandemic! Tuath's organisation will be all the richer with their tenants front and centre in a meaningful and genuine partnership. Supporting Communities is extremely proud to welcome Tuath as a member and we look forward to continuing to provide advice and support in the years ahead."
Members of Tuath's Tenant Engagement Working Group