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Introducing our new Customer Forum

Longhurst Group’s new Customer Forum is taking shape, with nine customers appointed to their positions on the panel.

As a new way of working at Longhurst Group, we’ve introduced a Customer Forum that will have regular contact with our Group Board to check we are taking the right approach, track our performance and influence our decision making.

This Forum will help to give our customers a voice, ensuring they are part of meetings and the decision-making process. It will provide opportunities for customers to learn new skills, gain qualifications and ultimately help us to improve our services for everyone.

Sharon Guest, Executive Director of Housing Services, said: “I’m delighted with how the Customer Forum has developed and the opportunity it gives us to work positively together with our customers. We recognise that things are changing within Longhurst Group and it is important we engage with customers about how these changes affect them, as well as listening to their feedback. We want to know what customers want, now and in the future, so the Customer Forum is a great way of doing this and making sure they are involved.”

Arit Otu

Arit is a qualified social worker who has worked in the field for 14 years. Her work has provided her with experience of working with older people and in services for people with learning disabilities and mental health issues.

She likes to adopt a personcentred approach to all her work and enjoys empowering people to challenge any barriers that are in their way to be able to participate fully in society.

Arit’s experience has also seen her work with people from various different backgrounds, enabling them to live in the community by supporting them to achieve greater levels of independence and staying safe in their own home.

She is looking forward to applying her principles to her work with the Customer Forum.

David Chown

David has been a Longhurst Group customer for 10 years, having retired from full-time work in management services and human resources around four years ago.

His voluntary work with us has included roles as a Resident Inspector, a Tenant Representative on the Customer Link Committee, a Customer Complaint Advisor and a member of the Scrutiny Team.

He believes that customer participation via the Forum will open an essential communication channel between the landlord and customer, providing a reciprocal understanding of the aims of Longhurst Group and the requirements of customers.

He wants to help ensure value for money services, a better community environment and to improve people’s lives.

Lorraine Gibbins

Lorraine has experience working in local communities as well as with local authorities and other organisations.

Her working life has focused on helping people live better lives. She has been a strong voice for the most vulnerable in her community.

Currently a part-time welfare officer with the Royal Air Force Association, she assists retired RAF service personnel with a range of needs. Previously, Lorraine has been a Neighbourhood Watch coordinator, which involved working closely with the local authority and Humberside Police.

As a Longhurst Group customer, Lorraine plans to bring a positive attitude, new ideas and lots of energy to her new role to help improve the everyday lives of our customers.

Malcolm Fielder

Malcolm is a retired hospital administrator who has also worked in commercial and voluntary organisations.

The grandfather of four enjoys volunteering for charity, giving debt advice and welfare benefits support. He likes working with people, especially when he can make a difference by being supportive in situations where he has experience himself.

Malcolm is looking forward to being part of the Customer Forum and helping to improve lives for customers right across Longhurst Group’s regions.

Margaret Cartwright

Margaret is now retired from work, but remains an active Working Union Member, as she has been since 1976.

She is a mother, grandmother and great grandmother who, during her full working life, has preferred to be a team player, working with the public.

She has learned a variety of skills, through jobs ranging from sewing machinist, shop assistant, barmaid, cleaner and waitress, to community care assistant.

During this time, she and her husband have also fostered a number of children.

Margaret’s mantra is to treat everyone as she would like to be treated herself.

Marjorie Howard

Marjorie has spent her working life dealing with customer service issues for a range of people, handling a breadth of problems. With more than 30 years of experience providing conflict resolutions, Marjorie understands the importance of effective listening.

Marjorie’s work as a trade union rep has given her the ability to present issues clearly and without bias. Her degree in English and computer expertise means she has excellent communication skills.

She has also trained staff in professional organisations to enable them to deliver excellent customer service. She is looking forward to working on the Customer Forum to improve the service provided by the Group for the benefit of customers and colleagues.

Mervyn Cowdell

Mervyn is a retired social worker who was the manager of a Children’s Social Care Team. He now lives in the Peterborough area.

He continues to serve as an independent member of the Adoption and Fostering panels and is Chairman of a local community association and Treasurer of an amateur musical drama group.

Having served on Longhurst Group’s Scrutiny Team, Mervyn is committed to helping us realise our vision to improve people’s lives. He is keen to ensure the Board is helped to meet the expectations and outcomes of the Tenancy and Home standards.

He also wants to help the Customer Forum ensures agreed service delivery standards are met.

Reg Challinor

Reg is an experienced communicator, having spent 13 years working with Coca-Cola and associated companies. His work in sales and management means Reg is comfortable talking on both a one-to-one basis and in larger groups.

For most of his life, Reg has been involved in ballroom dancing. This started as a hobby, then evolved to working with members of the public as a dance teacher and dance studio owner.

He has worked with most of the top dancers around the world and has given interviews both on television and radio.

Reg is pleased to be joining the Customer Forum, as he believes its creation brings the Board of Directors and the Group’s customers closer together.

Robin Oliver

A customer of Longhurst Group for 26 years, Robin has raised his own family as well as fostered children during his time living in social housing.

After seven years serving in the Armed Forces, he also supports veterans in need as a caseworker for SSAFA – The Armed Forces Charity – as well as volunteering in the charity sector. He also gained a BSc degree in Computer Science at the University of Lincoln.

Robin has been an active member of Customer Panels for eight years and a Scrutiny Team member for three years. He enjoys making sure the customer voice is heard and he is looking forward to his new role on the Longhurst Group Customer Forum.

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