Hello and welcome to my second blog providing an update on what I have been up to this past month or so. It has been a fairly busy few weeks but I have been able to get out and about a bit more, meeting key stakeholders, employees, and particularly tenants during my visits to some of our patches.

I had a really productive chat with Tony Lloyd MP, who was very supportive and who I have agreed to keep briefed on our improvement journey over the coming months – we will catch up every so often.  

Yvonne and I met with Neil Emmott, Leader of the Council, and Daniel Meredith, Portfolio Holder for Housing and had a really good discussion where we were able to assure them around the great progress being made with our recovery plan. It was particularly heartening to hear from Neil and Daniel that they are already seeing positive feedback about RBH from their fellow Councillors and their respective constituents – well done to all involved and let’s keep this going!

I joined the Regulator for Social Housing (RSH) Chairs North online session last month which focussed primarily on the regulatory focus for the next twelve to eighteen months. The regulator will continue to focus on risk management of financial issues and the move to consumer regulation, with a strong focus on condition of stock and underpinning quality of data.

We had an important special Board meeting in June to sign off key documents for submission to the Regulator and Housing Ombudsman which meant that I had to chair the meeting remotely whilst on holiday in Spain – a first for me! At the end of June, I attended the Representative Body via Teams – this was my first such meeting and I came away assured that the agenda was very much focussed around the customer experience and that there was an appropriate level of discussion. I also sat in as an observer at the recent Audit and Risk Committee meeting which had a hefty agenda, including the annual financial statements and risk and compliance updates, including damp and mould.

I had a really informative morning walking round a number of our neighbourhoods accompanied by our Head of Landlord Services, Sarah Robinson, and our Safer Neighbourhoods Lead, Chris Mairs. We started in Alkrington, then Cheapside and Hollin in Middleton, before heading to College Bank, Falinge, and Freehold, including a quick visit to the Pantry. I met a number of employees and tenants as we moved around - including Bobby, Gill and Mark at College Bank, Yvonne from Underwood, and Mr and Mrs Arshad from Freehold Tenants and Community Association – my thanks to you all for stopping and chatting. A key takeaway for me was how the cost of living crisis is biting really deep for our tenants. Thanks to Sarah and Chris for arranging.

Our Director of Customer Experience, Phil Heron, kindly invited me to visit our contact centre and stores at Kingsway where I managed to sit in on some customer calls with Aakif who deftly and professionally handled several calls to a high standard (in my opinion!). I also met with Joanne, Ailsa, and Helen in the contact centre as well as Rob the Stores Manager. This was a great opportunity for me to see the business operating at the customer end and hugely helpful to my understanding of some of the challenges ahead. Thanks Phil!

Cass Hasford from our Communications Team insisted that I get involved with the filming of the annual report and so I duly pitched up at our office for an interview which no doubt will be heavily edited down to try to capture my more coherent ramblings! Cass tells me that she has other ideas for video messaging involving the Board.

Amanda Newton, our incoming Chief Executive, and I spent an afternoon talking through a wide range of issues which we will have to get to grips with over coming months. We will be catching up on a regular basis until she arrives in September.

I was interviewed by the BBC at Freehold last week which was broadcast on BBC Radio Manchester Breakfast Show presented by Eamonn O’Neal on the 31st July – you can catch this on BBC Sounds if you missed it. Before the interview I managed a quick visit to the Paint Shop and Neighbourhood office where I met Jade Toft, Neighbourhood Housing Officer, Natasha Snape, Re-use Project Co-ordinator and Elizabeth Jackson, Paint Re-use Operative. The Paint Shop was busy with customers which was very encouraging. Jade ably steered the reporter and I around the estate during the interview. Big thanks to Jade as well as Iain from our Communications Team for helping make the interview go so smoothly!

I think that’s it from me for now. I hope you have a restful summer and that the weather picks up a bit - thanks for reading!