Is expecting a contribution to community such a bad thing?

Yesterday ,on the  Guardian Housing Network , I asked whether it’s right that a Housing Association should expect a resident to make some sort of contribution to the community they move into.

That we expect , as the default position , that everyone makes 5% extra effort to help their new community be the best it can be.

Is setting out this expectation inherently unreasonable?

Stating explicitly that there is a “something for something” around here. That the community expects a code to be followed.

Is that unfair? Or just common sense?

In Malcolm Gladwell’s book “Outliers” he describes a study of a small town, which for some unknown reason started bucking the health trends occuring in the rest of the country.

Basically people had stopped dying. They just kept going until they died of old age. No-one could find any explanation.

Then one day two doctors doing a study finally figured it out. They found that the things that contributed to this phenomena were:

  • Families looked after each other
  • Different generations mixed
  • There were lots of social organisations – people were very engaged and volunteered time to help others
  • And people looked after the poorer members of society with encouragement and support

And this had resulted in people living longer and stopping dying.

That sounds like a pretty cool deal to me.

I’d live there. Imagine the Mission Statement.

“We create communities so good that our customers refuse to die”

It’s obvious that any community that cares about its other members is going to be happier and healthier. That’s not rocket science.

It’s why we worked with our customers to make it part of the Bromford Deal. We expect people to contribute to the community.

So why is it that every time that I’ve mentioned this over the past few weeks that some people have taken a sharp intake of breath? Saying it sounds like Big Brother. A Social Housing Stasi.

What’s the problem in overtly saying you expect a contribution to the community? Surely most people would agree?

It’s early days but we are finding that most tenants do agree. They don’t want to be passive recipients of a service. They actually get a kick out of the fact someone is interested in them.

People we are speaking to are not trying to avoid contribution – they actually like it that someone asks them what skills they have.

Examples of what people are doing? Setting up a community Facebook page, helping out at a mother and toddler group, learning how to get online. Every little helps.

As one of our customers said to me last week:

“ I wish I’d have had the Bromford Deal. I’d have welcomed someone asking me what I wanted to do with the rest of my life”

I don’t think we will ever be able to claim that we helped people stopped dying.

But I reckon we will be able to tell some pretty good stories about what people did with the rest of their lives.

Two things you can’t say on Twitter…..

There are two opinions that are definite no-go zones amongst the liberal left twitterati.

Opinions that , if you were to express them openly , could see you banished to the most remote, uninhabited and hostile parts of the social media planet.(Linkedin…..or even worse, Google+)

What are they?

1 – Saying you think the NHS is a bit wasteful really and maybe reform isn’t a totally bad idea


2 – Saying that despite the economy being tough –  you think that there are jobs out there

Well , I feel like starting the week with a bang. So I’m going to say that , I , Paul Taylor , believe that there are jobs out there.

OK – before you press “unfollow” let me explain:

  • There are millions of jobs that have yet to be invented. I’m not going to expand that point here. You can read my previous blog on this. In fact if anyone knows a window cleaner who also cleans the house/irons clothes/and cuts hair please pass on my details.I’m recruiting.
  • There are jobs – but often people don’t feel they have any skills , or feel terrified at the prospect of even applying.
  • There are jobs – but people get fed up of applying when they get zero feedback and never hear anything about their application.
  • And even in the area’s where jobs are very few -there are loads of volunteering and training opportunities that provide people with confidence , and improve their skills.

Very very few people don’t want to work – just sometimes it looks like it’s too much of a challenge. It feels like they will never make it.

Today see’s the launch of a new project that I am proud to be part of.

Connect , as we call it , opens it doors today as a private beta site. It’s a Social Network for Jobs, Skills and Opportunities. A virtual marketplace for the user to share their skills and develop their confidence , and get access to priority work opportunities. And it will also offer loads of volunteering positions, and give access to innovators who might just help people develop the next big idea. The jobs of the future.

We want it to be a supportive community which is about hope rather than despair. It’s about helping everyone be the very best they can be.

Initially all new Bromford tenants and their families will be given access to Connect. Additionally they can access a Skills Coach, whose job it is to inspire them to do the things that they thought they couldn’t. Whether its getting online for the first time , or preparing for an interview – we are hoping we can remove some of the many barriers that people face as they enter or return to work.

We’ll be letting you know how its going here and on the Connect Blog.

If you haven’t unfollowed me, of course.

The UK doesn’t trust young people – New Blog

When I was on holiday I sent the following  couple of tweets:

“Talking guy from neighbouring maharashtra. Trad fishing family now working in #mobile. State is as populous as Mexico and India’s richest”

 “Massive number of #geny and enterprising – doing 2,3,4 different jobs. We better stop doom and gloom in UK or these guys will eat us alive”
I’ve been in the UK less than a week and I’m already sooooo bored with the political bickering about how we solve this problem.
Lets be clear – No politician or political party will get us out of this.
The best quote I’ve heard came on the Andrew Marr show – not from Nick Clegg – but from Jeremy Irons who said (and I’m paraphrasing)  “We need to look to the creativity from young people  to reach a solution , not look to those who created the mess in the first place”
We have a problem that’s cultural not political – we don’t trust young people. We think that someone who is 40+ in a suit is qualified to advise them on how they should live their lives and the jobs they be should be doing. Rather than freeing them up to develop and exploit the idea’s that they have.
We live in a world where young people genuinely know more about the mobile economy – the new world – than their elders . And they could be doing jobs that don’t even exist yet.
Here’s four young(ish) people I have come across in the past week:
  • Someone who works selling mobile SIM cards. His employer has agreed he takes time off to do an additional (unpaid) job as a Lifeguard as he has spotted tourists moaning about SMS charges when texting home. So he sells them domestic SIM cards so they can text cheaply whilst away. He’s a Lifeguard who sells mobiles.
  • A young man who makes clothes and has a small shop next to a restaurant. He waits and helps out in the restaurant for free . But he uses the opportunity to advertise his shop to every customer. And the restaurant owner pays him in meals and stops other people advertising to his customers to ensure maximum cross selling. His is a Waiter who makes and sells clothing.
  • A young mother who has been told that because of her child it is “highly unlikely” anyone would want to employ her. She has A level results that put mine to shame.
  • A guy with a treatable back problem who has been told he “will never work again” and should give up looking. He just cleared his 30th birthday.
The first two examples are from India. The second two from Great Britain.
One country has  faith its next generation and is on the way up. The other is …. Well , we will see….

A Design For Life – The Customer Deal – New Blog

It’s not often you get the chance to go back to the start. To redesign your customer experience from the beginning of the relationship

About a year ago we started talking to customers about their part in our service offer.

We had worked with them to develop a new Bromford Offer – based on the experiences of thousands of customers. It had nothing to do with regulation but everything to do with making sense of what customers had told us mattered to them.

As we developed the offer a lot of time was spent discussing what WE – as a business – wanted from our customers. What constituted the ideal customer relationship? And how could we shape it? What would need to change?

The Customer Deal, as we call it, begins today in a series of demonstration projects before a full launch to all new customers in April next year. I’m going to be blogging what works and what doesn’t. What it looks and feels like to a customer. And whether it makes a difference to us as a business.

This week though I’m going to be looking at the four elements of the Deal that we think will make it unique for our customers:

1 – A Fair Deal

Tomorrow I’ll be blogging about how we worked with customers to decide where our service starts and where it stops. And I’ll look at the elements of service that require complete co-operation from customers for us to be successful.

2- An Aspirational Deal

On Wednesday I’ll post about how we want every new customer relationship to be one of opportunity. How moving into, or buying, one of our homes should give the customer the very best social opportunity.

3 – A Transparent Deal

On Thursday we’ll take a look at how we will regularly review our offer with each and every customer. Including how the relationship is working , what it costs and where its headed.

4 – A Digital Deal

To close the week I want to outline how we are going to be really serious about tackling digital exclusion. Every new customer will sign up to a “digital deal” – with online communication being the default position.

As part of the blog going forward we’ll be asking other people to contribute – those providing the service and the customers receiving it. So we can shape it together and make it last for life.

See you tomorrow

Building Stronger Communities – Transcript of our Customer Debate on UK Riots

Riot Debate - Social Media used to bring customers together


Building Stronger Communities Debate

The following is an open transcript of the Twitter/Facebook and Customer Influence Meeting Debate regarding Bromford’s response to the civil unrest and riots that broke out in parts of the UK in Summer 2011.

The summary conclusions reached by our customers were:

1 – Customers feel that Bromford’s approach of changing behaviours rather than ending tenancies is the right course of action. They do not believe in just shifting the problem on unless there is no way back.

2 – The creation of mentoring opportunities for young people who do not feel part of society and have no leadership at home should be a priority.

3 – The new Bromford Customer Deal (See my Blog all next week)  is crucial in highlighting problems at an early stage.

Hope you enjoy reading the comments!

Responses from customers on Twitter and Facebook:

Newest messages first – start at bottom

Customer@BromfordLiving yes can i remind you of what mining communities were like – closely knit

Customer – I am afraid it is going to happen again because socirty is have and have nots

Customer@CIGatBromford yes agreed we do and we must but other agencies must work along side us

Customer@BromfordLiving yes we are having this problem and we are finding the police are all talk no action

Customer – totally agree but agencies are suffering cut backs vicious circle syndrome

Customer – were would the volunteering come from skills from parents

Customer –  i would agree and also politicians should keep out as well

Customer – and this is at the heart unemployment our young people losing hope

Customer – it is very difficult because the police do not take this seriously

Customer – no it was not i think some of it was down to gangs and organised crime

Customer – society seems to have given up on our young people but they are our investment for the future

Customer – we cannot do this on our own at the moment society is fragmented and its getting worse

Customer @BromfordLiving with difficulty rioters seem to have come from varios backgrounds and not from some sort of a sub culture

Customer – think the situation is very deep rooted

Customer – and that is really good but is jail going to work in every case

Customer #riotreport But remember: the more you give, the less people value it! We can provide the opportunities but not solve it all

Customer #riotreport people have nothing to aim for, opportunities need to be created to give something to work towards.

Customer#riotreport discipline and pride. We need to instill these in young people!

Customer#riotreport Religion used to play a big part in society and where many people got their morals from.

Customer – #riotreport there are a lack of male role models in society and families. We need to give people aspirations

Internal Colleague – RT @annagillespie74 Some stats to dispel the myths Riots: Gangs Did Not Play A ‘Pivotal Role’ In Riots #riotreport

Internal Colleague – Some stats to dispel the myths Riots: Gangs Did Not Play A ‘Pivotal Role’ In Summer Riots | Home | Sky News #riotreport

Internal Colleague – “Alleged rioters come from deprived areas”: How do we break the cycle? #riotreport

Internal Colleague – Just back from customer meeting looking at #riotreport. Lively challenging and some great ideas. Not bad for a Monday night.

Internal Colleague – “@Gangology: So reports confirm summer riots were not gang driven #statingtheobvious#riotreport not quite as bad as reported in the end

Internal Colleague#riotreport you can continue to post thoughts using this hashtag,we will share it when we provide our collective thoughts to the #riotreport

Internal Colleague#riotreport please see the B’ham project #nopostcodes tweets and the fantastic film they have made! some big stars took part!

External Partner@BromfordLiving #riotreport stimulate thinking around stronger community – celebrate local life & produce + key role models = mood shifters

Internal Colleague#riotreport thanks to everyone for your really strong & considered responses tonight!

Internal Colleague#riotreport Are we right to say ‘No deal, no keys?’

Customer – “@BromfordLiving: #riotreport -Top three for me #partnerships #education & connecting communities together to make them stronger!” agree!

External Partner @BromfordLiving #riotreport 1 aspiration is sown in the home, family & workplace 2 rewards those w best housing stock 3 match haves w needs

Internal Colleague #riotreport -Top three for me #partnerships #education & connecting communities together to make them stronger!

Internal Colleague#riotreport 2nd takeaway – we would rather Bromford change behaviour not shift problem on

External Partner#riotreport @weavermiles but it worked! We can connect communities in so many ways – community is not just a place, but a common interest

External Partner@BromfordLiving #riotreport responsibility to ensure the vulnerable are housed but reward could be given to better tenants for best stock

Internal Colleague#riotreport do we really think evicting the customers who were part of the riots make the situation better?

Internal Colleague#riotreport @petemarl Point One – social investment is good for communities #partnerships

Internal Colleague@BromfordLiving #riotreport I sent out the tweet 4 #riotcleanupBham it was a common purpose not existing relationships. Randoms came 2gether

Customer #riotreport top 3 takeaways 1- encourage volunteering and mentoring for all people

Customer@Jamoo1987 @BromfordLiving @BromfordHomes @kicfm Rioters should not be kicked out their homes. Being homeless isn’t the answer #riotreport

External Partner@BromfordLiving #riotreport making people homeless will only make matters worse. Restorative justice Yes & inv the community #partnerships

External Partner@BromfordLiving #riotreport can HAs take a leadership role implementing the govt localisation agenda? E.g space 4 neighbourhood forum

Internal Colleague#riotreport @PaulBromford lets go for it, the top three things we can take from this tweet off! What are our recommendations?

Customer#riotreport we saw in the aftermath of the riots of local people who never want this to happen again, there is a desire for change!

External Partner @BromfordLiving #riotreport what made a strong community in say the 60s & now. What changed?

Customer#riotreport @RuthGBromford interesting tweet! How do we give communities greater say over local decisions?

Customer#riotreport get involved with children at an early age like cubs and scouts

External Partner @BromfordLiving #riotreport how can u match tenants wants (e.g. Fresh veg & gardening skills) & have (spare veg patch) – bring comm 2gether

Customer@PaulBromford  #riotreport no, we want our communities to thrive, we have responsibility too

Customer#riotreport FB comment ‘I think if anything those found taking part shud be made instantly homeless – or unemployed.. – discuss?!

Customer#riotreport work clubs, providing opportunties within our organisation for our tenants. Working with other organisations, training providers

Customer – RT @mrbromford: @PaulBromford if we have the apprentiships yes but is this letting the govt of the hook #riotreport

External Partner –  #riotreport to an extent yes. Keep communities together but must also be a mix. E.g. If downsizing want to still stay local

Internal Colleague#riotreport social media lead those clean ups – not police, schools, housing providers? Communities can affect change for themselves!

Customer #riotreport social investment?! We do have responsibility to support our communities with opportunities for jobs, learning and skills

Customer#riotreport @CIGatBromford how do we encourage some of the positive actions by communities as they cleaned up after the riots

External Partner@BromfordLiving #riotreport the home life is personal. It is here where ppl feel so comfortable. Outside it, it is a must have culture

Customer#riotreport Tough action needs to be taken!

Internal Colleague#riotreport could housing providers build bridges? broker relationships, put things in place like apprenticeships which intervene & redirect

Customer#riotreport tough love is required if rioting within one of our communities and they live there, even if a relative, they should be punished

External Partner@CIGatBromford #riotreport what does it mean ‘sense of community & place’ – how can a HA contribute to this Q?

External Partner#riotreport a good home is essential. Once you have that ppl wish to self improve & get competitive (good) to move up ladder

Customer #riotreport what of the positive things that have happened in communities since the summer. clean ups, strong communities?

Customer#riotreport “why can’t Bromford place apprenticeships from within community organsisations who are struggling”

Customer#riotreport FB social housing estate with problems with gangs etc.The provider should put pressure on the police to deal with the problem.

External Partner #riotreport closer better joined up working HA’s, Police, Courts, Education, Support Agencies & Community (inc ten panels) big challenge 4us

External Partner@CIGatBromford #riotreport sow the seeds of aspiration. Help individuals on thier journey to get a house to raise a family. Make it reality

External Partner@BromfordLiving #riotreport aspiration & purpose in a community is imp. 1 thing most aspire to have is a decent home to raise a family

Customer #riotreport seems like government would make it more difficult to evict, takes months through legal procedures

Internal Colleague#riotreport young people have so many key changes in their lives – mashed up with media influence can create volatile responses

Internal Colleague#riotreport agency approach is a great one, instilling a stronger community needs a strong community voice! How can we help customers?

External Partner@CIGatBromford #riotreport family, home life & workplace are key influences. A sense of place & belonging = ownership (don’t trash ur yard)

Customer #riotreport comment from young customer “young people were really angry. get into gangs if not confident. Need to engage them”

Customer#riotreport should we give our communities responsibility to let our homes? Our customers decide who lives in their street?

Customer #riotreport @mrbromford says @BromfordLiving i would agree and also politicians should keep out as well

Customer#riotreport multi agency working with police, social services, schools etc is required for finding route cause and turn communities around

External Partner#riotreport no, individuals riot not governments. Although, the govt set the scence in both social & economic changes

External Partner –  “people felt disconnected – we have become disconnected” #riotreport

Customer#riotreport #ukhousingproviders can’t fix problems alone – other agencies need to be involved

Customer#riotreport it’s no good to eject people from their homes to make a problem in another community. Work to find out the cause

External Colleague@BromfordLiving #riotreport the transition between primary & secondary is daunting. Opportunity to sow the seeds of aspiration with a mentor?

Customer #riotreport – ‘I am not sure that Housing Associations could begin to touch the issues of the society we live in!

Customer#riotreport discussion at our meeting “should a housing association tenant be compelled to take up skills and volunteering”

Internal Colleague#riotreport Riots are not new….history repeating itself, what have we learnt?

External Partner@BromfordLiving @CIGatBromford what were the ‘mood changes’ and how can we understand them by nurturing future role models #riotreport

Customer#riotreport people have lost faith in making peaceful protests. We all have rights but people think for themselves, not for others anymore

Customer#riotreport do we have a role with schools &citizenship programmes, how do we ensure we have the scale & reach in our engaging in comm’s

Customer#riotreport cust on FB: “punish the rioters, but ask why it happened, we have 990000 youth unemployed, then you’ll help to prevent riots.”

Customer#riotreport – would it help if local communities had a lettings board & decided who should live on their street?

Customer – #riotreport it isn’t beyond our reach to make a difference

Customer – Young people have to be the priority for employment and any community inclusion #riotreport

Customer#riotreport could we run parenting courses?

Customer#riotreport customer email ‘the courts should deal with rioters, housing providers could have role in life skills, what do you think?

Internal Colleague#riotreport lots of ideas as to why it happened but what is our role as a social housing provider?

Customer#riotreport Do the government have a lot to answer for? Were they central to the riots?

Customer#riotreport – customer in B’ham says, too many kids are removed from schools before they are officially excluded-its all about league tables

Customer#riotreport it’s societies problem! Riots have always happened but modern technology fuelled it

Customer #riotreport customer comment “creating work for young people that pays would be a start”

Internal Colleague@CIGatBromford #riotreport how do we use our influence to change behaviours or use our relationship to discourage riots

Customer#riotreport if 10,000 people were charged, are we going to evict all those people?

Customer#riotreport – customer on FB: “Where there’s an estate with problems the hsing provider should put pressure on police to deal with problems”

Customer#riotreport greed and boredom seems to have been the motive for most participants

Customer#riotreport “housing associations need to prioritise their investment – riots don’t happen everywhere”

Internal Colleague#riotreport is it fair that only those in social housing could lose their homes! Or should it be a risk we expose?

Customer – #riotreport Was it all down to our ‘younger generation?’ Not sure!

Customer#riotreport we shouldn’t reward bad behaviour

Customer#riotreport shouldn’t we find out why tenants in our communities wanted to take part?

Customer – customer from B’ham says ‘ yes they should be evicted’ But we need to sing from the same hymn sheet to make a difference #riotreport

Customer#riotreport if a tenant is a persistent anti social behaviour offender, bromford should say we don’t want them!

Customer#riotreport “need to invest in young people , only way to avoid it happening again”

Customer – Live consultation on riots and social inclusion. “riots have always happened – nothing new” #riotreport

Internal Colleague#riotreport should social housing providers take legal action against tenants that have taken part?

Customer#riotreport with difficulty rioters seem to have come from various backgrounds and not from some sort of a sub culture

Customer@BromfordLiving my first thought is the riots were part of a disengagement of society #riotreport

Customer – Refuse housing?? Explain how we want our customers to live in our homes and communities #riotreport

Internal Colleague – How do we encourage stronger communities, where members work with the right partners to challenge behaviour #riotreport

Customer#riotreport – customer says on FB: “We will only cure this by education, re-investing in deprived areas, we have to give the youth hope”

Internal Colleague – We must help people choose the path that they know is right. Act as a sign post & support…be a force for change #riotreport #NoPostcodes

Customer – Create communities where bad behaviour is not tolerated because the neighbours will not allow it! #riotreport

Customer#riotreport customer says on FB – some tenants just abuse the housing they have, but the large volume are good tenants!

Customer – Make people responsible – instil behaviours – get up & get out! Dont wait for something to drop on the mat! #riotreport

Internal Colleague#riotreport Wolverhampton rioter convicted – who was a ‘Princes Trust’ Award winner – how do we make a difference?

Customer –  #riotreport “customers need to get clear set of expectations at start”

Internal Colleague – what is your view of the role of a housing provider in a community & how that can influence customers involvement with riots #riotreport

Internal Colleague – Join us tonight on twitter #riotreport to have your say on how we can build stronger communities to prevent this…

Internal Colleague – Check this video out — NO POSTCODESfinHQ via @youtube and join us tonight #riotreport to share your view 4.30pm

Internal Colleague – How can we stop the riots happening again? Live tweet off Monday 24th Oct at 4.30pm #riotreport join us and give your views @BromfordLiving


Discussion Group – Action against the Rioters

  • We need to understand why the person took part in the rioting 
  • Assess if the person has caused any anti-social behaviour previously
  • Work in partnership with other agencies – bring everyone to the table
  • Work with parents if they cannot control their children, send them to parenting classes 
  • Looking into education and how that can help 
  • Customers need to have respect and understand the impact
  • Possible counselling for the family – and interventions
  • Allow the criminal justice system to take action first – housing associations should follow
  • If there has been incidents of anti social behaviour in the past then take legal action against the family 
  • Use the customer deal as a tool to tackle asb 
  • 3 strikes then out by using the customer deal 
  • Where customer have been convicted in the past and have taken part in the rioting then legal action needs to be taken 
  • Take a stand to show that Bromford will not tolerate this behaviour 
  • Firm action needed to show that we are not a soft touch 

Discussion Group – Investing in Society

  • Need to signpost opportunity –  Employment & Skills;; Workclubs; Skills Assessment; Private Sector Jobs; Volunteers & Placements.
  • People need to belong to something; invest time and effort in people; how do we get hold of people with no or low aspirations
  • Lack of discipline and pride -Provide focus and direction
  • Nothing to aim for! Create something!
  • Are we pandering – more we do, more they want?
  • Down to the parents – negative parenting skills
  • Provide a path – Identify families we can help – do what it takes…Be sure we are targeting the right people
  • Lack of male role models – needs to be taken into account via volunteering
  • More Diversionary action
  • Get tough in expectations- Tell them clear expectations
  • Set the standards – No deal – no keys
  • Living in our property is an opportunity for people!
  • There are jobs – we just need to link them to people
  • Need clear Community expectations – re-inforced at all times
%d bloggers like this: