This week we saw Prince William launch Homewards, a five-year programme that will bring local organisations together to end street homelessness. It’s a radical ‘Homes First’ approach that has seen huge success in other countries like Finland – by offering people a home first, before addressing any other needs.
The initial funding has come under scrutiny (£500,000 per area to eliminate homelessness?), but that misses the point somewhat. The initiative offers a royal platform to tell people’s stories and emphasise the need for homes in the UK. It provides an opportunity for our politicians and our public to be empathetic. This empathy drives change – it has established the very foundations of good causes, from fundraising and charities, to social housing. It will facilitate fundraising and most importantly, add political pressure to review current legislation in England and Wales (Scotland has already adopted the ‘Housing First’ approach).
Striving through adversity was at the heart of Kate Dodsworth’s speech at Inside Housing’s Tenant and Resident Engagement Conference in May. Kate gave an inspiring, yet forcible speech about driving meaningful change that will push housing providers to become as transparent and accountable as possible. A change that is driven beyond tenant satisfaction measures (TSMs).
There is no doubt that the evolving regulation is taking necessary steps in the right direction and will hopefully lead to improved services within the social housing sector. But will it develop meaningful change on that journey, or foster fear and scaremongering in the process? Looking at the latest headlines, it seems to increasingly be the latter. News stories about drastically low or dropped satisfaction scores are undoubtedly attention-grabbing, but they’re also distracting and unhelpful.
The TSMs were introduced as part of the journey for self-improvement. A training ground that fosters evidence-based decision-making to encourage and motivate change for the areas of most need. This can provide clarity and vision for the year ahead, and like Prince William’s initiative, empathy must be at the heart of why we’re driving that change forward.
I kindly implore the sector to keep calm, take a step back, and look at the bigger picture within your own organisations. What are the results starting to say? Do you need some additional insight to understand the key areas for improvement? If you already know what those areas are, let’s gather people together from across the organisation to talk about it. To understand what is currently being done and foster other opportunities to develop and progress. Working together (not against each other) will drive meaningful change, whether your organisation is under scrutiny or not.