Welcoming our newest Board Member, Joanne Bowden

26 March 24

We are delighted to welcome Joanne (Jo) Bowden to the Board as our newest Resident Board Member. Here at PCH we value having people with lived-in experience of our services and communities being involved in our decision-making processes and have two ring-fenced spaces on our board for residents.

Jo is a PCH resident who has been a big part of our resident involvement success over the past 10 years, including being part of our Customer Focus Committee and Resident Scrutiny -, Jo feels the skills and experience she has gained from being involved with PCH has shaped her journey to her new role.  

Jo is Plymouth-born and bred, growing up around Mutley Plain and spending time in Eggbuckland. She currently lives in the Manadon area with her long-term partner and keeps active by taking her labradoodle Shadow and Goldendoodle Dakota out for regular walks.

Jo studied Ancient History at university before working for the MOD at Lympstone Barracks, one of the Royal Marine training centres in the South West. She recalls: “There was an element of guilt as we watched the strict Marine training regimes whilst on our lunch break eating our sandwiches and cakes!” 

A stint in construction followed and Jo became a qualified painter and decorator as well as a bricklayer, working for firms such as Wimpey and McAlpine on some large projects including helping to put in foundations for Plymouth Pavilions and working on the cladding project at Pembroke St in Mount Wise.

Joanne originally got involved with PCH when we were advertising free training opportunities for residents, taking up some of the courses on offer including First Aid training and Mental Health Awareness training.

“They were really helpful courses which PCH provided for free,” Jo said. “I got to learn some useful skills as well as meet some like-minded people and I still keep in touch with the people from those original Learn for Free courses, as we still meet up for various clubs and activities.

“I went on to become an involved resident by joining one of the scrutiny sessions on offer – a flyer came through the door and my partner said I have the skills to do it, and always say I want to be more involved, so I took up the challenge and applied to be a part of resident scrutiny.

“With the scrutiny group, we looked at a couple of large topics including anti-social behaviour and written communication. It was really rewarding to see the hard work we put into making recommendations to PCH result in creating real tangible changes to the way the organisation dealt with these subjects in order to put residents first and create a better customer experience.”

It's not just with PCH where Joanne has picked up a range of skills and experience, lending her time to volunteer for other organisations. Jo was Chair of Timebank SW from 2015-22 as well as being a Trustee on the Board of Four Greens Community Trust for eight years.

“I’ve spent a lot of time trying to help my community through various voluntary roles – with Timebank SW I felt it was time to step down in order to give someone else a chance, and Four Greens is celebrating it’s 10-year anniversary this year with lots of events planned so watch this space!” Jo said.

In 2022 Joanne applied to be a co-optee on the Customer Focus Committeee Committee – this Committee supports the Board by ensuring we are delivering excellent services to residents and supporting communities.

She said: “During this time I’ve seen some changes made to the Committee to ensure residents’ voices are truly heard to improve the customer experience with PCH in line with the values of the organisation.”   

Jo felt ready to apply to become a Board Member this year, and following a successful interview, she was appointed and attended her first full Board meeting in February.

Jo explains what it means to be a resident Board member for PCH: “I had a good knowledge of PCH before and being involved over the years has really benefitted me but being a Board Member is more about the strategic side of the business. As a resident Board member, you are able to lend a resident perspective, and it's your responsibility to hold the organisation accountable, making sure each decision puts residents first and aligns with the values of PCH.

“I was made to feel very welcome at my first Board meeting and PCH is always keen to help you with any training or support you might need, including having a mentor to help you settle into your role. I was able to submit my questions in advance of the meeting, so the Chair was armed with my questions, and we were able to discuss them at the meeting.

“I see a really bright future for PCH – I’d like to see the organisation deliver on its Strategic Business Plan objectives and continue to grow and expand, building more homes in more ways and perhaps expanding some of local partnerships so that we continue to invest into our city and its communities.”

So what would Joanne say to any PCH resident who wants to know more?  

“I would encourage any resident who wants to get involved to do just that. Residents are able to grow their skills and confidence - and there are so many different opportunities, there will be one that’s right for you. In the Business Plan vision, it says: ‘We’re focused on providing first-class services to our residents’.

“And the way we do that is by having residents with us side-by-side along the way.” 

If you are interested in finding out the different ways that residents can involved in the Governance of PCH then you can contact the Governance team.

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