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“Investing in services to improve our customer wellbeing has never been more important” – Director of Housing Peter Gill talks about why we must support customer wellbeing to help sustain tenancies

It’s three years since we launched our Tenant Support and Wellbeing Service, and it is more important than ever that we provide a service which helps our customers.

This April has seen a large cost of living increase which has hit everyone, including our customers.

As a landlord, we need to make sure we are there to support our customers with their mental health and wellbeing, so they are able to sustain their tenancies. Often tenancies can break down when other external pressures are felt by the individual.

The Government’s Social Housing White Paper also makes it clear there is a relationship between housing and physical and mental health.

An article by Inside Housing reported that according to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, people on lower incomes are two times more likely to experience anxiety and depression than the wider population, with 63 percent of mental health cases relating to economic and social instability.

At Citizen we feel it’s important that “we are looking out for our citizens”, which is one of the objectives of our business strategy, and one of the reasons why we introduced our Tenant Support and Wellbeing Service three years ago.

The service is available to customers 24/7 and is completely independent provided by Care First.

It is free and confidential for customers to use and offers help with anything, including mental health and wellbeing, family matters, relationships, managing debt, workplace issues and rights as a consumer. We don’t know who has accessed the service or what for.

In the last year the service has also offered our customers Structured Telephone Counselling too, where customers have had access to six telephone sessions compared to a single session in the previous two years.

We want our services to reflect that we are on our customers’ side, to make their lives easier and to support them when they need it.

Every customer has access to the service as a benefit of their tenancy via a freephone number and online portal. It is also a great tool for our frontline teams because they can provide customers with information on the spot if they feel they are struggling and they know that the service will be available then and there.

Since 1 May 2021 to the end of January 2022, 337 new customers used our Tenant Support and Wellbeing Service, which generated 744 contacts. Anonymous usage data tells us that between November and January (the latest figures we have access to), people were mostly accessing the service for personal issues – and 44 per cent of people who accessed the service for personal issues asked for help with their emotional health.

Investing in services to improve our customers’ wellbeing through the tough times has never been more important and we hope that the service will help our customers who are struggling now and over the next year.

Peter Gill
Director of Housing at Citizen

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