Loneliness, gardening help and self service – our online army has its say on Greenfields

Loneliness, gardening help and self service – our online army has its say on Greenfields
3rd April 2018 James Calnan

Whether it’s supporting lonely residents or those who struggle to look after their gardens, our Virtual Voices are influencing Greenfields from the comfort of their own homes.

Virtual Voices are a new way of getting involved in Greenfields. They are contacted once or twice a month and asked to email back with their thoughts on a service or topic.

There are no meetings to attend, and residents can respond when and as often as it suits them.

In recent months, Virtual Voices have commented on light bulbs, self service, our Customer Service Standards and more.

See below for some examples, and to become a Virtual Voice, please email amanda.bhavnani@greenfieldsch.org.uk

Improving services

Last year, we launched Task and Finish Groups; a new way for residents to give their views over a short period of time to help improve specific services. As part of this process, we also asked the views of Virtual Voices on our Self Service Portal, and the Supported Gardening Maintenance Service.

As a result, here are some examples of changes we’re in the process of making:

  1. Improving our Self Service Portal, including:
  • We’re launching a competition to find a new, catchier name!
  • We’re introducing automatic verifications, to reduce time
  • We’re modernising its appearance, to make it more appealing.
  1. Improving our Supported Gardening Maintenance Service:
  • We’re keeping it free of charge
  • We’re now offering the service year-round, rather than on a seasonal basis
  • The eligibility criteria will be clearer, and our new Tenancy Sustainment Team will use it to assess applicants

Reducing loneliness

Our Virtual Voices said that would like us to help reduce loneliness in people living in our communities because “loneliness, what can it do to person, it can make you depressed, have low self-worth, the feeling of not being wanted and the list can go on and on”.

In response, we’ve also published information about other organisations that aim to reduce loneliness in G2G, on our website and on social media. These include The Silver Line and Age UK Essex’s Befriending Service. Any other suggestions are very welcome.

We also continue to offer lots of opportunities for residents to regularly interact with other people and help increase their self-worth. These include:

  • Community events, such as fun days and clean-up days
  • Representing the views of people in your communities, including joining an Area Forum or becoming a Community Voice
  • Volunteering your time to help improve lives, such as becoming a Digi-Pal or Chair-based Exercise Leader.

We’re also working with other local organisations on the ‘Halstead Connected’ project, to help reduce loneliness in Halstead by creating more cohesive communities (there is a launch event on 24 March, which we will promote via our Facebook and Twitter accounts)

Reducing anti-social behaviour

Virtual Voices suggested that we could “support, motivate and encourage participation in local schemes to reduce instances of Anti-Social Behaviour.”

This summer, we’re launching two ‘Fit and Fed’ schemes in Braintree, to engage young people and help keep them occupied during the summer holidays. The first is a “Cooking and Cricket” project, where young people can play cricket, and then cook a healthy meal; and the second is a project for local school children to grow “edible estates” using fruit and vegetables that can be used within healthy meals, which we will help them to cook.