LiveWest’s scrutiny group, InFocus, was created four years ago and has been pivotal in ensuring customer involvement is the golden thread that runs through our organisation and the lens through which everything is seen, developed and delivered.
Since becoming Chair of InFocus, James says the volunteer group has been successful in elevating customer voice to develop services for more than 80,000 LiveWest customers.
And he has talked about his new passion for housing and continued drive to help the housing provider’s customers.
James, 43, said: “I wouldn’t be here if I wasn’t seeing an end result of what we are doing and the support that LiveWest gives us. They are very supportive.
“What makes InFocus so rewarding is the people and seeing the end result of our work. It is very rare that they say ‘sorry, we can’t do that’.”
James has been a long-standing customer of LiveWest and knew little about social housing before he moved into his home in Plymouth with his wife and children.
He said: “When I moved into social housing, I knew nothing about it. I just thought people paid the rent and associations made the repairs and that was about it. I didn’t know about what went on in the background. I have learnt so much.
“As someone that’s disabled, you can either sit there and do nothing or, you can keep your mind active and do something. I just hope that what I’m doing is improving services for the customers and the organisation.
“That’s always at the forefront of my mind.
“In InFocus, we’ve got people from all different backgrounds. We all live in different schemes and have different elements we want to improve on. It’s a really friendly group,” he said.
Currently, over 40 customers are part of the InFocus group which has developed into three areas: friends of InFocus, service reviews and the policy strategy and performance group.
James explains the service review volunteers meet every week to thoroughly explore different areas of the organisation.
He said: “Sometimes, we even identify ways that will help LiveWest deliver its services and create efficiencies.
“If there’s a policy being written by LiveWest or it’s due to be renewed, the organisation will then share it with our members and get some feedback.
Masters continues to talk about the friends of InFocus group and the importance of having more working customers involved to easily give their feedback.
He said: “We were struggling to get people that work because they couldn’t join us for a meeting in the middle of the day once a week. But, with friends of InFocus, all I ask them for is five minutes a week.”
As he works closely with LiveWest and vocalises its customers; opinions in board meetings, Masters looks forward to increasing the groups numbers from this year.