Richard and Travis at SURA HQ
Today I caught up with committee members, Ann and Travis, to find out about the development of our new Service User and Residents Association. SURA as it is now fondly known, opened its metaphorical doors under the expert eye of SSJ’s Service Participation Lead, Richard Le Peuple during the latter half of 2021.
Today, SURA has a strong committee of 6 including a chair (Travis), vice-chair (Simone) and secretary (Ann) and 12 registered members, all of them either current SSJ residents or service users. Together they have developed and signed-off their constitution and have designed and released their own website. They are accountable directly to the board and have their own office and equipment here at our head office in Albert Road.
This is a really exciting development for SSJ and demonstrates a commitment to ensuring service user participation influences all levels of decision making and activity. Already the SURA committee have played a significant role in providing Service User and Resident views on new service design, reviewed key policy and procedure documents, sat on interview panels and organised focus groups. They conducted the first annual survey with recommendations and told us that 84% (n.100) of tenants interviewed felt that SSJ “treats all tenants with fairness and respect”. This will shortly become a requirement for all housing associations to publish these results.
I asked Ann and Travis what they hoped to achieve through SURA and Anne summed it up really with “we want to give service users and residents a voice”. I also asked them if their perception of SSJ had changed since they took up their positions on the committee, Travis told me “It’s much bigger than I thought it was”.
Richard, SSJ’s participation lead told me that he is:
“very proud of what we are building here. We now have a committee that are keen to get things done and give service users and residents a voice. I see my job as being able to provide the knowledge and training the committee need to feel confident and able to influence the betterment of SSJ”
So, what next for SURA?
Well later this year they will be joining manager’s across SSJ to take part in our annual internal quality audit. They will ensure that service users and residents can give unfettered feedback about the quality of services they receive across a range of quality standards. SURA committee members involved will then make recommendations to senior managers and the board on how the quality of SSJ’s services can be improved upon.
From my perspective, I am so proud to hear colleagues say things like “well we need to get SURA involved in that” or “can we ask SURA to help us with that?” when I am out and about in the services. As an organisation we must be willing to embed their work at every opportunity.
We are extremely grateful to Southern Co-op for providing some seed funding back in 2021 which allowed us to turn SURA from a pipedream into a reality. And we are extremely grateful for the donations received from the community that have helped establish SURA as a really important, but independent, part of SSJ.
Read about the services provided to our service users and tenants.