Resident ambassadors

“Recruit resident ambassadors who can talk honestly about the pros and cons of the new technology to other residents and communities.”

Residents’ Voices in the Net Zero Journey

Heartwarming Homes research has found other residents are the most trusted messengers. Using resident ambassadors is a great way to embrace this and give residents a stronger voice. Resident ambassadors can support other residents and increase engagement in energy efficiency improvements. You can also work with them to shape what you offer so it better meets the needs of residents.

Onward Homes – Murdishaw bungalows

North-West based housing association Onward Homes recruited nine resident ambassadors (or ‘neighbour champions’ as Onward refer to them) to support a project to refurbish and retrofit 130 one bedroom bungalows.

As soon as the project was confirmed, a drop-in day was held to consult residents about the proposals and gain feedback on colour schemes and the proposed design. The work included new flat roofs with increased insulation, new triple glazed sky lights, external wall insulation and internal wall insulation on window reveals, new double-glazed windows and doors, a modern ventilation system and HomeLink sensors to monitor temperature and humidity, as well as improvement to shed doors and roofs.

Via early publications, emails and drop ins, Onward wanted to recruit two to three neighbourhood champions for each of the five areas of the scheme. Onward recruited nine champions, some ended up having a limited role while others were very active on a day-to-day basis.

The role was advertised by saying:

  • We will share key information with you and regularly update you on progress.
  • You will act as a friendly face in your area who will signpost your neighbours to the right person or process if they have issues.
  • You will also be able to share or confirm information that has been sent out to them, as we will share that information with you first.

The neighbourhood champions played an influential role throughout the project.

  • On design and approach – they instigated a complete rethink on the design of the rear windows. They influenced how the work was delivered including compensation for blinds that no longer fitted, a change to the shed locks and a change to the design of shed roofs for adjoining owner occupiers.
  • They monitored the performance of contractors and sub-contractors allowing issues to be dealt with in a timely manner.
  • They advocated for other residents around practical issues experienced during the work.
  • They influenced all communication, resulting in the circulation of frequently asked questions flyers, and detailed information sheets printed in colour about the work and about the equipment being installed.

Regular meetings were held in one of the vacant bungalows on site with the champions to:

  • Update on progress
  • Raise issues / devise solutions.
  • Agree communications.

Onward are piloting the HomeLink sensor app with the champions soon.

One of the neighbourhood champions is now involved in influencing the procurement of the next retrofit contract.

Work on Murdishaw has influenced the whole approach Onward are taking on future retrofit projects. The projects will now involve all relevant teams from pre-procurement stage: Neighbourhoods, Tenancy Support, Capital Projects, Comms and Resident Engagement, alongside capital strategy and capital project input.

Onward will devise a resident engagement and communications approach to suit the type of properties, amount of work, residents and locations. The communications developed for Murdishaw are being used to influence the communications for other projects. Partners and contractors will be briefed on the language to use, and how to engage residents in the programmes.

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