Michelle Fleet was
honoured at the ARCH Tenants Conference on 19 September with the
title ARCH Tenant of the Year.
Birmingham City Council nominated Michelle, who volunteered as a
resident representative for a major refurbishment of two Council
high rise flats in the Newtown area of Birmingham which included
the sheltered housing scheme where she lives.
Although Michelle was in ill health recovering from a stroke,
she was aware that living through major works would be a very
stressful and difficult time and wanted to ensure that it would be
a positive experience for residents.
Birmingham City Council, in nominating Michelle, highlighted the
high level of her kindness and selflessness in reassuring fellow
residents about the impact of the refurbishment project, drawing
attention to potential safety issues and by volunteering her home
to receive the first installation of the new heating system,
knowing that it was highly likely for teething problems to
Michelle helped to organise and deliver weekly resident
meetings, facilitating open discussions and made residents feel
welcomed and comfortable. She improved the sense of community and
cohesion within and between the two tower blocks by encouraging
people of different ages and ethnicities to come together around
the shared issue of refurbishment by organising and encouraging
them to attend meetings and events.
She worked with the contractor to produce easy to read
operational and maintenance guides for the new features in
residents' homes and then visited residents to teach them how to
operate the new features within their home.
Michelle has not only made a difference to the life of residents
and the work of contractors, but she developed her confidence by
working and interacting with people from different backgrounds and
at all levels.
This has empowered her to get more involved in a number of
community projects. Being inspired by the low carbon wood pellet
heating system element of the refurbishment, Michelle has become a
champion for the new heating scheme that is attracting national and
international attention. She is currently working with her landlord
to develop a behavioural change project for residents to educate
them and raise awareness of the need to save energy.
Michelle is also working with the local community to develop a
communal garden that will improve the image of the blocks, provide
a recreational place for residents to relax and improve their
health through gardening.
Michelle is also seeking ways to bring more activities into the
warden scheme that can improve community cohesion and bring the
block back to life. She has arranged for the mobile library to
visit the sheltered scheme. She also taught residents how to use
the internet and arranged for one tenant to obtain a laptop on