This week saw my role take yet another turn as I was asked to take part in an online debate through the Guardian website discussing how housing providers can help to cut rent arrears. The approach to take part came just last week and whilst I was pleased to have been asked I must admit I was a little confused as to why they would ask me. How does Tenant Cashback appeal to this audience? Why me? It got me thinking about an earlier blog I’d written: Your presence is out there!
So, the discussion is only hours away and I’m doing some reading in preparation for the midday kick off. Lots of debate around Universal Credit and Bedroom Tax – I’m still scratching my head, a little self-critical on the value of my presence but hey, I’ll give it 100% and speak of what I know.
The introductions are laid down and the conversations under way. Questions and viewpoints come from all over with customer’s welfare rightly at the forefront. There’s talk of rent collection, Universal Credit, Direct Debits and customer eviction notices! These are some worrying but very genuine and pressing matters that are circulating within the very organisations from where we work, but there’s an underlying message behind all of this which I quote from one of the commenters on the forum:
“Education, education, education”
Something new is happening right now and something that some of us know little about or we are uncomfortable with, so we need to ensure the message is out there and we need to support our customers and our colleagues. But we must remember that with education also comes communication. I made a comment in the debate:
“If customer’s are given a voice they will speak, give them a choice they will make one, give them an opportunity they will take it.”
In the shape of society today we can ill-afford to walk around with the blinkers on, we need to open-up our senses and be more aware of what’s going on around us, whether that means to integrate our services, listen to advice from others or adapt our approaches – we simply cannot continue on a single track without accepting and embracing change. Some changes will happen regardless, with or without our influences, so it’s down to us to greenhouse our ideas for the sake of our customers and each other – we need to sow our futures.