Housing conference focuses on the importance of listening to customers


The first Independent East conference, held near Norwich earlier this month, was attended by over 100 customers, board members and staff from five housing associations based in Norfolk and Suffolk. The event focused on what lies in store for social housing in 2023 and how involving customers will be key.

The conference featured keynote speeches from housing experts Hilary Burkitt, Director of Housing at IFF Research, Kathryn Eyre, Quality, Engagement & Development Director of the Housing Ombudsman and Kate Dodsworth, Director of Consumer Regulation for the Regulator of Social Housing along with table discussions and opportunities for questions.

Discussion among the 100+ participants focused on creative collaboration being a key solution to the challenges faced by housing associations and how really listening to customers and putting them at the heart of decisions, could help alleviate the challenges facing social housing providers over the difficult year(s) ahead.

The event was organised by Independent East, an informal alliance of five community-focused housing associations in the East of England - Broadland Housing, Freebridge Community Housing, Havebury Housing Partnership, Saffron Housing Trust, and Orwell Housing Association.

One of the participants, Jane, a Broadland customer, found the event particularly important.

"I found the content delivered by the keynote speakers informative, positive and thought provoking. The whole conference was uplifting and well attended by tenants, which shows a growing interest in how attitudes to social housing and engaging with our landlords are changing."

Hilary Burkitt, Director of Housing IFF Research, said,

“It’s important for the sector to come together and think deeply about the challenges they are facing at the moment in such unprecedented times. The takeaway from today is a real sense that everyone is up for the challenge that we’re facing. Despite the great difficulties for housing associations, for customers, everyone is up for thinking about how they are going to address these challenges and to make sure we are doing our very best for all of our customers”.

Independent East will continue to work collaboratively together and with customers to address common issues, sharing ideas and best practice to continually improve services and better the lives of their customers.

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