One of the main responsibilities of any community association is to ensure that any action it takes is based on the needs of the community it represents, and is supported by it. This means discovering what local people want through local surveys, and getting and maintaining their support.
To achieve this, the community association needs to communicate with the people it serves on a regular basis. One way of doing this is to produce a community newsheet, for example, and issue it up to four times a year.
The number of issues will depend on the association's level of activities. Alternatively, you can organise regular public meetings in local halls, council offices or local leisure centres.
A community newsheet is useful and beneficial because it:
- informs residents about your association, for example, the names of committee members
- tells people about activities, forthcoming events and other groups on the estate or in your area such as women's groups, youth clubs, summer schemes, Christmas bazaars
- informs and updates the community on current issues and campaigns relating to your estate such as a housing maintenance scheme or an environmental awareness campaign
- encourages people to join or get more involved with your association and community matters in general
- informs other agencies of what is happening in the estate and what your association is doing. You might compile a mailing list and send a copy of each edition of your newsheet to all agencies with which your association has contact.
Preparing a newsheet
Form a sub-committee of 3-4 members to work on pulling articles together. Set a deadline for submission of articles: you may have forthcoming events to publicise and need to give people plenty of notice. Take photographs to give added interest to the written text. Consider using graphics as well.
Possible contents might include information about:
- the tenant/community group
- women's group
- senior citizens
- youth club
- after school club etc
- local agencies
- statutory bodies - names of officers working in your area and useful telephone numbers
- a scheme being planned for the estate/area.
Remember to put together a mailing list for the distribution of the newsheet.
Local Housing Executive district offices and district councils may provide the following services for community associations on request. These can include:
- Desk-top publishing, which can make the newsheet look more professional
To ensure that tenants are kept abreast of developments, particularly where they relate to community involvement, the Housing Executive has published a wide range of literature for the advice of tenants and their community representatives.
In addition, there are the Tenant's handbook, the Tenant's charter and the Annual Housing News.
If your association would like a copy of any of the above or advice on them, please contact your local district manager.
Continuous Tenants Omnibus Survey
The Continuous Tenants Omnibus Survey is a quarterly survey of a panel of around 1,000 Housing Executive tenants. The tenants, randomly selected from each of the district offices, provide valuable feedback on housing services, concerns such as vandalism and crime, general customer satisfaction with the services of the Housing Executive and the performance of its staff.
Other areas of particular community interest, some of which have been included on the recommendation of the Housing Community Network , are also included in the survey, such as home security, design standards and community facilities. The survey work and analysis are carried out by an outside opinion research organisation, commissioned by us.
We also carry out exit polls and estate surveys to inform managers, at a local level, about customer satisfaction and to broaden its overall view of the response to existing housing services and their delivery, and of related tenant expectations.
Community associations could become involved with their districts in identifying appropriate survey areas through their representatives on district consumer panels.