FACEBOOK UPDATE: Our Facebook accounts for Network Homes and Network Homes sales have been compromised. We’re doing everything we can to liaise with Facebook and resolve this issue. Until then, please do not use our Facebook accounts to contact us and ignore any messages or post you may have received from our Facebook accounts from Thursday 28 September 2023. 

Share this page

BLOG: Supporting all residents to have their voices heard

08 March 2023

Our Local Resident Panels play a crucial role in how we operate by holding us to account and providing a forum where resident feedback has a direct influence on our services. The Chair of a Local Panel is responsible for ensuring the Panel is well run and the residents’ voice is heard. The Chair also ensures the Panel’s views are taken to the Customer Services Committee, which is an important link between the residents and the Board. This International Women’s Day the theme is #EmbraceEquity which highlights how we can all challenge gender stereotypes and seek out equitable inclusion. In this blog, Panel Chairs Princess Gibbs and Anita Dashwood discuss the importance of encouraging residents from all walks of life to have their say. They also share why they were inspired to lead their Local Resident Panel, and how the role has helped them build confidence and leadership skills.

Reflections from Princess Gibbs, Chair of the London Panel

Princess London Chair

I have been the London Panel Chair and a Customer Services Committee member since May 2022. I took on this role because I wanted to be part of influencing and shaping policies and procedures which impact residents. My hopes and ambitions are to support, develop and lead residents in feeling that they have a voice and are heard and listened to.

Princess Gibbs, Chair of London Panel

When I heard about this opportunity to write a blog about my leadership role for International Women’s Day, I immediately jumped at the chance and was excited about doing it, amidst all the everyday tasks which I take on. I felt so excited about wanting to write something, as I am a strong advocate for equal opportunities, inclusion and people feeling a sense of belonging.

As a black woman from Caribbean heritage, I have not always felt valued and embraced, despite working in a social care setting, which bases its values on inclusion. So I wanted to acknowledge how important my role has been in making residents who come from all different walks of life, feel included and valued. Network Homes has provided me with opportunities in training and personal development, which I would not have necessarily had access to in my personal work life. This has empowered me as a young black female, to realise that there are opportunities as I felt recognised, and my skills and talents were valued, and recruitment is not “tokenistic” but based on your qualities and abilities.

I am quite self-reflective, and I do suffer with impostor syndrome! Even writing that sentence, I wanted to put in brackets after self-reflective, I believe so! People around me often talk about my great qualities, skills, and attributes, but I struggle to believe that my success is deserved or has been legitimately achieved. This stems from culture, childhood experiences and my upbringing, where I learnt that being a black woman was going to be a lot harder in life and I had to work double hard in everything that I did. It has been a great mindset for my current achievements, but it has left me with difficulties both mentally and psychologically as to how I view the world. It leaves you thinking that you have to be this "strong black woman", not only in your work life, but also in your personal life. You never get a safe space where you can feel low, emotionally drained or feel vulnerable, without it feeling like a defeat or that you have somehow failed. You end up feeling like a failure, despite working so hard at trying to achieve. This narrative can make this world feel like a very lonely place.

Working in organisations which are often mainly white and male dominated has also proved difficult in finding where to fit in. I wanted to share this in a bid to show challenges and the positive knock-on impact of providing opportunities like the London Local Panel Chair role. It is not just about giving these opportunities to people, but also recognising the psychological element and providing support in this area too.

I try and bring an inclusive mindset to the resident’s panel and make people feel recognised for their contributions and I hope I can continue to make our members feel included. 

Reflections from Anita Dashwood, Chair of the Hertford and Out of London Panel

Anita Hertford Chair

I have been a Network Homes resident for 10 years. After three years being on the Hertford Local Resident Panel, when the role of Local Panel Chair came up, I decided to apply and was appointed as Chair in May 2022!

Anita Dashwood, Chair of Hertford and Out of London Panel

As a woman in her 50’s, taking that first step into leadership was a daunting prospect. I felt that was an area I wanted to develop for my own personal growth, as well as wanting to shape how Network Homes engages with residents, contribute to the forward plan and continue to be a voice for all residents in our community. The training and support I have received has helped me so much in my role and I have learned a lot! My confidence in my role has grown and I’m so thankful for the opportunity, which I may not have had in my own work life. I have more confidence to take on leadership roles, and be positive role model for other women. I hope this inspires other women to do the same.

I fully support diversity and inclusivity and encourage residents from all backgrounds to speak out and become involved in whatever way you can. It is so beneficial to hear from people from all backgrounds, abilities and genders who want to make a positive impact in their communities.

We can all make our communities thriving, happy places to live and work. We can share ideas, and tell Network Homes what services they could offer to residents, particularly those from under-represented communities to help enhance the lives of those in the community.

We all have so much to offer and by listening to different viewpoints and experiences, we can highlight and promote changes to achieve equality for us all.

Why not give it a try?

By taking part in Network Homes' resident engagement opportunities, you can learn new skills, meet lovely people in the community and help make positive changes now and in the future. You can have a look at the many resident engagement opportunities available to you by clicking this link or the button below. We’re always looking for more residents to get involved and there’s something for everyone!

Find out more about resident involvement opportunities

Safe Space

Together we can end domestic abuse