Sian shortlisted for Tenant Champion award
As our sector celebrates Housing Day today, which places an emphasis on tenant voice, it seems the perfect time to shower praise on a woman who is a true inspiration.
Sian Ford has been shortlisted in the Tenant Champion category at next week’s 24 Housing awards in Coventry.
And if you are searching for someone who has made a difference in their community, then look no further.
During a career which took her to Birmingham, Bristol and London, Sian held a senior role within the NHS as a contract manager. But ill health saw her medically retired.
A serious case of arthritis meant her body was failing her, but her brain certainly wasn’t and she was keen to use her skills and experience to help others.
Five years ago she forged links with LiveWest and her impact at Meadow Flats in St Ives – a multimillion point development next to the Tate, which created 26 modern homes for older people - has been nothing short of amazing.
And Newquay-born Sian is brimming with pride as she prepares to accompany her son to Coventry next week for the prestigious award ceremony.
Sian said: “I am thrilled to bits and never expected this. It came completely out of the blue.
“It is lovely to be recognised for the work I do. To be nominated was great, to be shortlisted was amazing.
“I had to retire from my job in the NHS due to back pain and arthritis but my brain was still very active.
“I was keen to give something back to the community and this is my way of helping people.
“LiveWest have been amazing and I can’t praise them enough.”
As a community link, she has built relationships with the local community, signposting residents to organisations that can assist them when they are unsure about something.
Sian has produced a community directory, which is handed out to all new residents at her scheme, outlining information about the area.
She supports members of staff when they are holding community events and helps residents to be involved in engagement activities. From movie and bingo nights to craft fairs and quiz evenings, Sian has got it all covered.
She is very much the middle woman, someone who makes things happen.
Balancing the demands of seeing things from a resident’s perspective with a realistic awareness of what a housing association can provide is an essential quality which Sian boasts in abundance.
As a Service Watch member, she is part of a group which scrutinises LiveWest’s services, while at the same time researching what other housing providers are doing. It’s all in the name of making things better.
Alongside this, Sian is the chair of her local residents’ association, while also becoming digital champion where she promotes online engagement.
Sian also led the Tate Gallery Liaison group which helped to inform residents of the building developments at the art gallery.
And her skills extended to making a three-minute promotional video of the gallery – a digital masterpiece which helped earn the Tate the prestigious award of Museum of the Year.
LiveWest Involvement Pathway and Resident Engagement Team Leader Debbie Sims said: “Sian has given many hours of her time voluntarily since moving into a LiveWest home.
“I am thrilled that she has been recognised for her hard work and dedication in working with the Resident Engagement team to ensure hers and other residents’ voices are heard.
“Although Sian suffers will ill-health a lot of the time, this never stops her and we feel very lucky to have her working with us through many involvement opportunities.
“Involving residents to help us shape our services really does make a difference.
“Their feedback and involvement are crucial for us to be able to deliver excellent services and improve the communities in which they live and we are always looking for others to be involved.
“There are many different ways to do so, many without even leaving your own home. Please contact a member of the Resident Engagement team if you are interested on firstname.lastname@example.org.”