Leeds &Yorkshire Housing Association (LYHA) has just marked an historic milestone with its new customer forum meeting to discuss diversity and equality, 60 years since Aggrey Housing Limited first met, one of four associations which later merged to form LYHA.
Aggrey Housing was one of the country’s first BME housing providers having been established to provide decent housing and services for migrants arriving in Leeds.
Sixty years on, a group of 20 LYHA customers met to share their ideas and views on diversity and equality, with a particular focus on three key issues: how the association can adapt and respond to the aging population, how to better engage with diverse communities; and how to tackle inequality.
This was the first meeting of “The Voice”, a new and different way of capturing customers’ views and ideas. The event will take place up to six times a year with the aim of bringing together a cross-section of LYHA customers to share views, ideas and opinions on how the association can improve services in a variety of areas.
In 2015 the debates will include repairs services, community safety, affordability and support for customers; amongst others. The findings will be shared with LYHA’s Executive, Customer Committee and Board as well as the staff responsible for service.
And most importantly, what happens with the feedback will be shared with all LYHA customers and others to demonstrate the success having a voice can achieve.
Lisa Pickard, chief executive of LYHA said: “The Voice is designed to give people more choice to get involved and brings people together to share their views and ideas to help us to improve and shape what we do in the future. The Voice is LYHA listening to our customers and taking their views and ideas into account.
“It gives current and future customers, as well as their friends, families and neighbours a great opportunity to influence and make a difference. We need to support tenants and communities to have more of a voice and this is one of our ways to help make that happen
“It’s apt and timely that the theme of our first Voice event is diversity, given that it’s almost 60 years to the date LYHA first discussed and responded to this important issue. It’s been part of our history, we want it to be part of our future.”
LYHA customer Greg Potts, who took part in the forum, said: “The event has been informative and enlightening. Lots of topics have come up that I hadn’t even thought about before and it was great to hear other people’s views.
“This is a great idea to encourage communication as I will now go and tell my neighbours all about the meeting, what I’ve learnt and the benefits of attending next time.”
LYHA was formed in 1979 through the merger of four associations, which date back individually as far as 1950.
The Leeds Tenant’s Housing Society Limited was formed in 1950 and was registered as a Friendly Society and affiliated to the National Federation of Housing Societies. Yorkshire Cottage Housing Association Limited was founded in 1952 to focus primarily on providing accommodation for the elderly.
Aggrey Housing Limited was formed in 1955 and Aire Valley Housing Limited was founded in 1962 as a “development consortium specialising in the design, construction and management of moderately priced dwellings for lettings at fair rents based on cost”.
LYHA now owns and manages almost 1,300 properties and remains true to its founding principles in its mission “to provide excellent quality homes and services that make a positive impact on people and communities”.