For Barbara Owen, a Sanctuary Housing resident from Chester, the tenant voice is at the very heart of what makes social housing work.
As a long-serving member of Sanctuary’s Chester and District Committee and Group Housing Committee, 79-year-old Barbara has a big say in influencing local service delivery and where community investment should be made.
The Chester and District Committee monitors the landlord services provided by Sanctuary to its 6,500 homes in and around Chester, giving residents like Barbara who are passionate about their communities the opportunity to make a real difference.
Barbara explained: “Residents have a big say on decisions and how services are shaped and delivered and we do feel that we are genuinely listened to and help make a big difference.
“It works both ways. We know we have a voice that is being heard and it helps Sanctuary to understand and deliver for the needs of its residents. It’s very satisfying to know that, by working together, we are achieving something really positive.”
Like all members of the committee, Barbara volunteers her time freely – driven by the desire to help others and make a positive difference.
That commitment – Barbara admits she even plans her holidays around committee meetings – stretches to other areas of her life too.
She regularly volunteers at Sanctuary’s Move It surgeries in Chester, supporting residents looking to move home or secure a place on the housing register, as well as helping at the local registry office, scanning and digitalising records and registers so they are preserved for future generations.
Barbara said: “I enjoy volunteering my time and knowing that I am making a difference.
“Even if I come away having helped just one person then I feel like it has been a success. It’s that desire to help other people that drives me on.”
Barbara is sharing her story to celebrate national Housing Day, which has the theme ‘the tenant voice’ and is an opportunity to raise awareness of social housing and the positive impact it has on people’s lives.
She says she is very happy with her property in the Upton area of Chester and is grateful for the service Sanctuary offers.
“My late husband Eddie and I started off as social housing tenants before buying the property where we were living,” Barbara explained. “But when Eddie was made redundant and became unwell we had to sell.
“We were very glad that social housing was available as an option for us. I don’t know where we would have been otherwise and I am sure there are millions of others who are equally thankful for it.”