I’ve lived in my house for 10 years and I became a resident champion in 2015, a couple of years after I moved in. There are six Hastoe houses in the scheme that I live in so I keep an eye on the general appearance of the scheme and report any communal repairs or issues to our Housing Officer. I also check that the gardener has completed work to a sufficient standard and that the communal parking area is being used appropriately.
I’m very grateful to have the opportunity to live here in a wonderful home complete with solar panels, and air source heat pump. Being a Resident Champion enables me to give something back to Hastoe, and say thank you. I have a background in land management and nature conservation and I love to encourage care for the environment.
Being a Resident Champion gives me an opportunity to chat with neighbours, which I enjoy. While the role is light touch, residents know that there is a voice to Hastoe if they need it. We often have to sort out our fences after a storm or wild winter winds. Occasionally we are organised enough to take the vulnerable fence panels out to avoid them being damaged by the winds!
Sometimes there will be a comment made by a neighbour about tenant terms and conditions that I can't help with, e.g. fixed payments. In these situations, I can pass these comments on to my Housing Officer. It's important for Hastoe to explain the scope of our role to other residents so they understand how we fit in. It helps to be confident enough to suggest what we can help with instead, e.g. collaborating with the landscape company to help plan activity at the right time for both residents and wildlife. The hedge outside our sitting rooms is one such example - ensuring it is cut in October gives us better light in our sitting rooms during winter, and also does no harm to nesting birds. We also foster conditions for wild flowers during the summer and only cut the edge of the grass area monthly. When the flowers have seeded, the hay is cut in July. I allow the ox eye daisies to grow on my front lawn, and this acts as a seed source for the following year.
I would recommend becoming a Resident Champion if you're thinking about it because it's a really positive thing to do. If you can bring a skill or perspective to the role then it's all the better for everyone. It gives you an insight into who your neighbours are, and what is important to them, and fosters a sense of shared community. Being resident champion is one of those win-win roles for me and Hastoe.