60 second interview with George Arkless
George Arkless is chair of Haddonhall Residents' Tenants Management Organisation (TMO) in the London Borough of Southwark. A TMO is a means by which council or housing association tenants and leaseholders can collectively take on responsibility for managing the homes they live in. Part of George's role is to provide training for volunteer TMO board members.
George Arkless, chair of an inner London residents' tenant management organisation trains local volunteers to serve on the TMO board.
Do you do PLE?
Yes, though the term is fairly new to me. Being involved in the tenant management movement a lot of my time is spent understanding the legal side of running a TMO, and ensuring other residents understand their responsibilities in running our own housing services.
What's your favourite example of PLE?
I recently helped a disabled person get some work done on his flat that he had been trying for a few years to get done at another organisation. Just by explaining the committee's responsibilities under the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) and Health and Safety laws we were able to bring about a real change in attitude in the committee. We hope that other disabled tenants will benefit from this in the future.
On a more general note while the term council estates have a lot of connotations attached to them TMOs are one of the best kept secrets leading to sustainable answers to a range a complex social problems, including crime and youth issues.
Why do you think PLE works?
In respect of tenant management because it empowers ‘normal’ local people to exercise their rights and make decisions at a local level. It allows for more creative local solutions and comes from the grass roots using the legal tools available to them.
!! What are the biggest challenges for your organisation doing PLE?
It is getting volunteers to understand the importance of training and personal development. We deal with a whole range of laws from housing, health and safety, employment, contracting, anti social behaviour, DDA, discrimination laws, to name a few.
What's your top tip for doing good PLE work?
Never forget people are individuals. If you have the individual at the centre of what you are doing or the decision making process then sustainable goals will be achieved.