Service Excellence Awards 2005: Winner - Public Services - Bromford Housing Group

'Creating communities where people really want to stay' is the mission of Bromford Housing Group, and the proof of success is that at the end of 2004, for the fourth year in a row, there wasn't a single empty home among the 15,000 properties on its books.

Bromford is one of the country's most dynamic Registered Social Landlords (housing associations). Based in the West Midlands, it operates over a large area from central England to the south-west. It has grown from being about the 30th-largest housing provider a few years ago to number six this year; outside London, it receives the biggest slice of government funding. And it is ambitious: it plans to treble the number of homes it manages to 40,000 by 2010.

Bromford believes in 'putting the customer at the heart of everything we do'. One of the key vehicles for doing this is its VIEWpoint customer panel, now about 100-strong. This is Bromford's sounding board for ideas, with feedback collected via post, e-mail and workshops. The panel has its own newsletter, and members get involved in decisions such as the appointment of new contractors. This has now progressed with the creation of VIEWpoint Plus, a forum for customers and board members in making decisions about the future of Bromford's business.

Another innovation: Bromford 'colleagues' used to go out to estates on makeover days to help with gardening, tidying up and mending fences. This year, it has invited customers to come into its offices and spend time at the call centre, or to shadow estate managers, finding out how Bromford works and having an opportunity to give their own input. There is a waiting list of people wanting to take part.

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