"IF IT HADN’T BEEN FOR SALIX HOMES AND GETTING MY HOME BACK THEN, I REALLY DON’T KNOW WHERE I’D BE TODAY"
‘SOCIAL HOUSING CHANGED MY LIFE’
At the age of 21, Charlotte Haines was a single mum-of-two, facing homelessness. A decade on, she’s transformed her life and is now Chair of our Customer Committee. We caught up with her to find out why she decided to get involved.
Last year we launched our ground-breaking Customer Committee designed to transform the way we engage with our tenants and give our residents a much stronger voice and a platform to hold us to account.
Charlotte is one of 12 residents who sit on the Committee and has recently taken over as Chair. She credits social housing for saving her life and now wants to use her own life experience to help others.
She’s now a happily married, working mum-of-three, but her life used to be very different.
She explained: “I’ve had a roller-coaster of a life. I was a teenage mum on benefits and then when I was 21, I found myself homeless with two young children after a relationship breakdown. At one point, me and my children were sleeping in my dad’s dining room.
“Luckily, I was given a Salix property in Little Hulton - a home I’m still in today - and that changed my life. At the time I had nothing, I remember I had to sell my jewellery to buy carpets, but these things make you stronger.
“If it hadn’t been for Salix Homes and getting my home back then, I really don’t know where I’d be today. And that is the reason why I want to get involved - I understand the difficulties that many tenants go through as I’ve been there. I’ve been the single mum struggling on benefits, I know what it’s like, so I can use my experience to help others.”
"SALIX WAS BRILLIANT DURING THE PANDEMIC, MAKING THOUSANDS OF PHONE CALLS TO OLDER AND VULNERABLE PEOPLE TO CHECK ON THEIR WELFARE AND I’D LIKE TO SEE MORE DONE TO SUPPORT THOSE PEOPLE"
The Committee is responsible for ensuring we’re delivering on the consumer standards, set by our regulator, achieving value for money, and holding us to account and can commission a piece of scrutiny work into any area of the organisation.
Their work has included supporting the recruitment of our new chief executive, looking at our pandemic response, shaping our new Customer Charter and they have been sharing their experiences with other housing associations as an example to follow.
Charlotte is passionate about supporting our older residents and wants to focus on improving our services to older tenants affected by the digital divide.
She added: “One of my priorities is to help improve communications for older people who aren’t on the internet and might feel excluded.
“Salix was brilliant during the pandemic, making thousands of phone calls to older and vulnerable people to check on their welfare and I’d like to see more done to support those people.
” The Committee was launched just before the Covid-19 pandemic hit in 2020, and for the first year of its existence, members only met face-to-face twice, conducting all business in the virtual world.
The pandemic presented the opportunity to do things differently, and Charlotte says in many ways it’s brought them closer together.
"WHO BETTER TO SHAPE THE FUTURE OF SOCIAL HOUSING THAN THE PEOPLE THAT LIVE IN IT."
“We’re all different people, with different backgrounds, but we’re all on the same page. It’s a great group of people who all just want to make a difference.
” And the Committee is making a real difference - even being recognised for its achievements in the Northern Housing Awards and the TPAS Awards.
When Charlotte joined the Customer Committee, she was working as a PCSO with Lancashire Police, but can now see her future working in the housing sector and had previously volunteered on our Youth Panel when she was younger.
She added: “Social housing is about so much more than just providing homes, it’s about helping people and I want to help people too. I’m really proud to be part of this movement at Salix Homes, which is well ahead of the game when it comes to Customer Voice.
“Who better to shape the future of social housing than the people that live in it, and I look forward to continuing to work with Salix Homes to improve services for all tenants and create a social housing service in Salford that we can all be proud of.”