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Achieving Change...by Tony Buchanan


The Oxford Influence Group


Last Thursday, 23rd July I was invited to join the Oxford Influence Group to help residents who are with housing providers that do not have any form of Tenant Engagement. The meeting was held via video conferencing using Zoom and there were 10 residents in attendance. For those of you that were at the last Tenant Forum members of the Oxford Influence Group attended this event and gave a talk on the work that they are undertaking.

The Oxford Influence Groups aims are:

Our purpose is to work collaboratively with those responsible for designing and running services (for example local government in Oxford, national government, and local organisations such as charities and housing associations) to influence them to improve their policies regarding important issues such as mental health, housing services, benefits and employment. We do this in three ways:

1. Influencing organisations and service providers in Oxford and the UK to work more co-productively, giving equal voice to people who use the services and/or set up similar groups to ours.

2. Working together with staff/volunteers at Citizens Advice Oxford and the Stronger Together project to bring about improvements (demonstrating point 1 by doing it ourselves).

3. Calling for and achieving progressive social change using the strength of our direct experience and evidence from the Stronger Together partnership.

In many aspects the O.I.G works in the same way as the Oxford Tenant Involvement Groups and I found that their commitment and desire to make changes was very heartfelt. The group explained that many of them were Housing Association tenants who experience these organisations as opaque and unaccountable with little chance to get their voice heard. This has left them feeling powerless. The O.I.G are campaigning for Housing Associations to work more co-productively with their tenants so that communication and accountability is improved. This is a primary focus for the O.T.I.G, holding the city council to account and to ensure that openness in decision making is reflected when working the O.T.I.G residents.

This was my first meeting with the O.I.G and my input at this stage was limited to the agenda being discussed on the day. If you want further information on the O.I.G you can view their first newsletter at;

https://citizensadviceoxford.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Oxford-Influence-Group-January-2020.pdf . There is a website that the O.I.G hopes to have up and running soon but you can view them on their Facebook page.

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Thanks for this report and information. Hopefully your work with Tenant Involvement will help you make a positive input in the group.

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