Carolyn Cook, ServiceWatch member
Why I joined ServiceWatch
My name is Carolyn Cook and I live in a bungalow for people with disabilities in Penzance. I first became involved in resident involvement in 2003 and have been a member of many different groups.
When it was mentioned that this new group that would scrutinise the services that they provide to all residents I was immediately interested. When we first started we had to learn the strengths and weaknesses of other members and what were my own. In the time we have been working together we have become a really good team.
The organisation does not have any influence over the subjects we choose to scrutinise and provide all the information we ask for. The recommendations we have made to the boards have been accepted and many have been implemented already including the reporting of performance information in Open Door rather than a big document at the end of the year and the improved rent statements. Not all changes can happen overnight, they take time to filter through. We are able to give a residents view and are working hard to improve the services which we all receive.
ServiceWatch has given me the confidence to undertake the CIH level 3 qualification in resident scrutiny and Nicola Tucker and I were given the opportunity to speak at the National Housing Federation conference. We were the only residents who were given the opportunity to speak by their landlord and they had no idea what we were going to say until we started, they did not influence what we said in any way. I think this shows the mutual trust that exists between the organisation and Service Watch. I enjoy being a member of Service Watch and look forward to the other topics we will be scrutinising.