Carmen Simpson
Wednesday 26th October 2022 - 15:38

What does building safety mean to me?

Carmen Simpson was elected as Chair of Phoenix in September 2021 and previously served as Vice Chair from 2016-2021. Carmen became involved in Phoenix after years of experience in resident involvement and housing management in Lewisham and Southwark, and she is passionate about ensuring all residents have the opportunity to have a say on issues that impact on their lives.

When you think about building safety, you probably think about high level strategies, surveyors and people in a board room, analysing plans and figures. But we have to think beyond that!

What does it truly mean to talk about building safety? Well, that differs for everyone and as we have reached the five-year anniversary of the tragic events at Grenfell this year, we must continue to do more.

I’m proud of our resident-led model and I’m proud to say that 3,440 resident shareholders play a role in our decision making. Resident involvement truly is at the heart of what we do, but as your tenant Chair I’m passionate that we must continue to do more, especially when it comes to the topic of safety.

So, what have we been up to? Well, last year we launched a programme board to oversee our Building Safety Programme which ensures Phoenix are doing everything they can to keep residents safe now and in the future. I chair the programme board and am joined by other resident members. We’ve also recruited our Building Safety Manager, Emma Burdett, whose expertise will guide both staff and residents on building safety.

But our approach to safety doesn’t stop there, though. While resident leadership is crucial, we mustn’t overlook the value of simple safety communications. We know that we must find ways to reach everyone in a way that is accessible and meaningful.

At a basic level, this newsletter is important. In this issue we focus on fire safety and in previous issues we’ve covered other safety topics. It’s simple, but if you remember to find your fire action notice or plan an escape route after reading The Phoenix Flyer, then reminders like this can save a life.

For new residents, please read your resident handbook for key safety information. We’re also working with our contractors to produce building-specific safety guides for our new developments. In-person engagement and learning is also important. Many of you attend consultation activities throughout the year and this year we held our first fire safety event. Residents had an introduction to the history of fire safety, met with London Fire Brigade and took part in a hazard spotting exercise to stay fire safe.

So, in summary, as a Board Member, building safety might be a detailed report on risk and safety measures, but as a tenant I expect to feel empowered with essential safetyinformation. Engagement takes many forms and whether that is through reading a tenant handbook or having a go with a fire hose, it doesn’t take away from the seriousness of the message.

If you want to get involved or if you want to learn more about an area that interests you, please get in touch. Your voice matters!