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One Wendy Hind

I wanted to share one particular project I have thoroughly enjoyed building up over the period of the last year – increasing co-ordination with internal teams across Housing Services.

Where some of the Customer Service Team are looking to increase their skills and involvement in additional projects, we are offering them opportunities to work with the Tenant Involvement Team to learn and support with us.

For the next year, 3 Officers have chosen to work with us, contribute to the Ambassadors Portal and assist with meetings, design projects and assist in planning projects forwards.

Grant will be working with our Great Estates Ambassadors Group and will be helping to design a training programme for our Customer Services Tenant Champion.

George will be supporting the design, communication and development of our online Leaseholders handbook, facilitated by our team of Leasehold Champions and Leasehold Management Officer, Christopher Benjamin.

Jeff is going to support our review on Complaints Process Management and will assist our Ombudsman Resident Panellist, Tony Buchanan design, develop and share external communications from those high level meetings.

"Hi there, my name is George, and I am a Customer Service Officer at Oxford City Council. I started in my current role in February 2020, spending just five weeks in the office before the first lockdown and have been working from home ever since!

I joined the Council after graduating as a singer from the Royal Academy of Music in 2019 – not the most standard training for customer service. However, I have a wealth of experience working in pubs, and behind the bar at my local Power League 5-a-side football centre in my years as an undergraduate student in Cardiff. My job role now sees me helping customers over the phone with a wide array of problems with different services, from waste and recycling, to gas servicing, pest and dog warden and, rather appropriately for my new project, tenancy.

Myself, Grant and Lloyd, two of the other CSOs from my department, are joining Wendy from the Tenancy Involvement team to co-ordinate on a new project to give tenants a better say in how we at Oxford City Council go about improving things for them. Unfortunately, due to the very limited opening of our offices at St Aldates, our meetings all have to be virtual. It is, however, really inspiring to take on a new challenge that is a very different change of pace to my normal working life of being on the phone.

My task in the upcoming months will be to assist Wendy and Christopher, our leasehold management officer, in producing the leaseholders’ handbook for 2021-2022, ready for its rollout later this year. The handbook is being designed and produced with input from our leaseholders and the intention of the document is to act as a quick look guide to their obligations across a range of areas – from repairs and sub-letting to selling and re-mortgaging. It is proving to be a valuable and informative experience already, even early into the project, as it gives me a far better understanding of the rights of our leaseholders, and I am far better equipped to help anyone experiencing difficulty when working on the phone. I am also able to identify customers whose input on the handbook would be invaluable going forwards and I hope to be a small part of a large effort to make life easier for our leaseholders across the next year and beyond".

"My name is Lloyd and I work as a Customer Service Officer for the Oxford City Council contact centre.

I have held this position for two years now. I handle predominantly inbound calls, I have experience of working on the front counter for the contact centre at St Aldates.

I work alongside a total of 10 services for the council including tenancy, rents and repairs which are very popular and important services for tenants and the Oxford City Council.

I like to adopt a methodical and holistic approach, ensuring all questions raised and needs highlighted are dealt with fully and with empathy.

I am a Mental Health First Aider and have been involved with other initiatives for the Oxford City Council.

Prior to working for the Oxford City Council, I worked as a Guest Relations Manager in a major resort hotel abroad which was predominantly a front facing role. Overall, my customer service working experience spans over 15 years- in leisure and hospitality, as well as educational retail sectors

I have been put forward to take part in understanding how Complaints are processed and how this perhaps could be improved and streamlined. I’ll be supporting our Ambassador who is on the Ombudsman Residents’ Panel which is also a brand new initiative so we will be learning together.

The overall aim for me, is to gain a further insight into Tenant Involvement. I very much look forward to working with Wendy and meeting the rest of the team in due course".

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Thank you for this insight into some of the work you have been undertaking.

It has struck me by reading this piece along with the language of recent Zoom meetings I have been invited to join there are areas of Council work that I have never heard about and have no idea (although I can often guess) just what work they do, what powers they have and who makes the decisions for them to come into existence.

This piece refers to the Ombudsman Residents' Panel; recent Zoom calls talked about Locality Hubs and Locality Officers.........? Who are they, what are they responsible for and where are these Hubs? Are they, like a lot of things these days, virtual rather than…

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Hi - you are quite right! Ombudsman Residents Panel is a newly formed panel who meet to discuss cases of high level complaints across England which have reached the regulator - e g The Housing Ombudsman. Currently Tony has had one meeting and has just started working with this national group, which was only set up in January this year. We wait to see what they can achieve. Locality Hubs are real - they are names for the community centres where groups of officers from different teams are trialling working together - hence the "hub" in plain English it is allowing staff to start working together in real time without going to the council office. There is one a…

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