Housing association deserves a fair say

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On BEHALF of a number of employees at Scottish Borders Housing Association (SBHA), we would like to say the organisation we work for cares about the people who live and work in the Scottish Borders. It wants to provide safe, comfortable homes in well-managed neighbourhoods and make the people who work for it and live in our communities feel valued.

This is a difficult thing to achieve in a climate where funding is reducing, legislation is constantly changing and customer expectations 
are rising.

SBHA does not always get it right, but when things go wrong staff are encouraged to acknowledge what went wrong, apologise, and make amends.

We have read with growing dismay, disappointment and concern the recent press coverage of SBHA.

Coverage has been given to a recent “confidential stress audit” which was carried out by the union Unite. Unfortunately, not all staff in SBHA completed the survey.

Many, including Unite members, were not made aware of the survey nor were they given the opportunity to complete it. Some only knew about it when they were sent the results and thanked for completing 
it (when they hadn’t) and some only knew about it when selected results from it were published in the press. There may also be staff who did not expect their comments made in a “confidential” survey would be shared in a national newspaper.

While it is important that those who have concerns are able to raise them and have them addressed, it is also important that those who have different experiences are able to share them, which is why we are writing this ­letter.

We work together to find ways of improving the organisation to ensure we can continue to provide jobs and homes in the future. Staff are encouraged to talk to their managers when things are not going well, or when help is needed.

For many of us, this is what we do on a daily basis and support and advice are forthcoming. For those who do not feel that this is an option, there are HR and union representatives, as well as external support from occupational health and support services.

Some may feel that their stress is relieved by airing their views in the press. For others this creates stress, worrying about how our friends and neighbours will perceive us and our employer, worrying if it will affect our job 
security and worrying how we will cope with the additional demands of responding to this negative publicity while trying to provide the service our customers and colleagues deserve.

We hope that this letter will redress the balance in what has, so far, been a very one-sided and negative view of our organisation.

NP Foster, 
K Gilchrist, L Neish, 
D Gillett, A Ramage, 
D Cassidy, R Burnside, D Wilson, 
A McNaughton

Scottish Borders Housing Associaion

South Bridge House, 
Whinfield Rd, Selkirk