Joining the FED
The best way to get involved with the Federation is through your local residents’ association (RA), or if there is no RA in your area, by taking the first steps towards forming one. The best way you can influence crucial decisions affecting your council home and estate is by establishing a residents’ association recognised by the Council and affiliated to Kingston Federation of Residents.
Here are six powerful reasons why having your own RA is good for you:
- You will have a major and crucial input into how money is spent improving your estate or neighbourhood – and be able to bid for extra cash.
From 2015 onwards, Kingston Council’s Better Homes programme will set aside substantial funds to carry out environmental improvements to council estates and pay for upgrades to communal areas of flats’ blocks. Where there is a local RA, it is invited to play a key role in deciding the improvement projects that residents want, and ensuring that these funding priorities are met by the Council. Each year, residents’ associations are invited to bid for special council funds set aside to carry out smaller improvements. This year, RAs have shared £100,000 of extra funds to undertake around 60 small projects ranging from new fencing and landscaping, to the provision of bike sheds and children’s play equipment.
- You’ll be empowered to resolve social problems affecting your area, such as vandalism, anti-social behaviour or indiscriminate parking. On one central Kingston estate, the new residents’ association (working with the Council) brought about a 60% reduction in petty vandalism and low-level anti-social behaviour in its first year of existence. And, as such issues diminish, your RA will automatically promote a better sense of community spirit and local pride.
- You will have immediate and direct access to your estate manager, resident participation manager and other senior council housing staff – through whom you can request urgent communal and estate repairs, and pursue local issues affecting your estate, homes or flats’ blocks. Since the start of 2014, all estate managers have been providing weekly ‘surgery’ appointments for their local RAs to discuss any and all housing and estate matters.
- You can be directly involved in the decision making process on key housing issues: as an affiliated RA, you will be a member of Kingston Federation and your representatives can be nominated to serve on important Council committees, working parties and project groups where key housing policies are developed and adopted.
For example, the Federation’s resident members currently sit on:
- the Better Homes Delivery Board (currently spending £65M to improve the entire council housing stock)
- the Resident Participation Review Group (RPRG) – which brings resident representatives, senior council officers and councillors together round the table every fortnight to resolve any and all urgent housing-related issues
- the Housing Consultative Committee, which reviews – and advises – on all key housing policies before they are approved by the full Council
- the Kingston Strategic Housing Partnership – which devises and then sets the overall strategy for most housing-related council policies
- interview panels which appoint repairs & maintenance contractors, and working parties to select short-listed candidates to fill senior housing posts.
Your new Residents Association could be involved in all these and other important housing groups – working on the INSIDE to bring about changes.
- You will receive ‘one-off’ Council funding to cover your RA’s start-up costs and be given an annual grant to cover your basic running costs, such as stationery, printing, internet and phone charges. Separately, you will also be able to apply for special funding for one-off community or estate projects – both from the Council’s Neighbourhood Committee and from regional or national grant giving bodies. Without an RA, these funding sources are simply not available.
- And of course, you will have access to expert (and free) advice, support and resources from the long-established Kingston Federation of Residents – including help with publicity materials, research, the training needs of your committee members and officers, or simply to help you run effective RA meetings.
These are just six good reasons for forming a residents’ association. But, if you still have any doubts, why not talk to the officers and members of any one of the dozen existing RAs in the borough – and they’ll confirm that having an active group which looks after residents’ interests, DOES make all the difference. Contact details for the Chairs and secretaries of other Kingston residents’ associations can be found on this website. For more information about any of the benefits listed above or, if you just want to chat further about forming your own RA, please contact us- details of how to get in touch can be found on the Contacts page.