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Surrey University Urges Housing Groups to Back Welfare Rights of LGBTQ+ Residents

Published on: 24 Nov, 2020
Updated on: 26 Nov, 2020

A new report by Surrey university encourages social housing providers to commit to the HouseProud Pledge Scheme to help ensure the welfare of their LGBTQ+ residents.

In 2018, the university published the No Place Like Home report, the most extensive UK study about the lives of LGBTQ+ social housing residents that revealed, despite a change in equality laws, they continued to experience discrimination in their everyday lives, especially about their housing.

As a response, the university and HouseProud, the nationwide network for LGBTQ+ professionals in the housing sector, developed the easy-to-adopt scheme to foster better relations between housing associations and LGBTQ+ residents.

The scheme gives housing providers a year to deliver three core Pledge Scheme commitments, which are:

  • LGBTQ+ resident input at senior/strategic level;
  • Showing commitment to the values of the Pledge and LGBTQ+ inclusivity by displaying support for the Pledge Scheme on corporate and resident communications; and
  • Initiating a programme of staff training about LGBTQ+ lives and resident concerns.

In a project study published on November 17 2020, the team from Surrey and HouseProud detail how they implemented their innovative scheme through a knowledge-exchange exercise across 11 social housing providers, representing more than 1.5 million residents nationwide.

The scheme has also been endorsed by London’s Deputy Mayor for Housing and Residential Development.

Cllr Caroline Reeves

Borough Cllr Caroline Reeves, lead for Housing and Development Control, said: “We thank the university for this insightful report. We constantly review our policies in line with all emerging issues and changes.

“Guildford is a vibrant and inclusive borough, and the council strongly believes in equality of identity and opportunity. We are committed to ensuring all our residents feel safe and are protected.”

The project study describes how the team worked with Stonewall Housing, Tonic Housing and representatives from the Greater London Authority, to review progress and goals at regular project meetings attended by key stakeholders, including LGBTQ+ residents.

The study recommends all social housing providers take the following approach to engage with LGBTQ+ residents in ways that are:

  • Supportive, initiated by residents’ concerns and issues (not just organisational targets);
  • Regular, not a one-off, but a series of planned meetings and actions;
  • Purposeful, providing the space and resources for residents’ concerns to be addressed is essential; and
  • Enabling, LGBTQ+ residents have an enormous range of skills. Providing a channel for these skills to reach any diversity and inclusion initiative is important and empowering.

The report also suggests a similar approach needs to be taken with housing provider staff, many of whom really do want their organisations and services to be fully inclusive of LGBTQ+ residents.

Andrew King, author of the report and professor of sociology at the university, said: “Everyone should be able to feel safe and secure in their own homes, but our research from 2017 found the LGBTQ+ community is not afforded this right.

“It is clear housing providers want to act with integrity and support their tenants, and our HouseProud Pledge Scheme gives them a workable framework to engage with their residents in a meaningful way that effects positive change.”

Tina Wathern, director of education for Stonewall Housing, said: “We are delighted to support this important piece of research that will help ensure LGBTQ+ social housing tenants have safe spaces at home.

“Committing to the Pledge is a significant first step for organisations to ensure LGBTQ+ tenants’ voices are heard, their needs are met and their rights are recognised.”

John Stevens, co-chair of HouseProud, said: “We’ve really benefited from our continued partnership with the university on the Housing with Pride project as we work to embed the HouseProud Pledge Scheme.

“Early adopters of the scheme have been able to put in place arrangements to work with their LGBTQ+ residents, and some groups are already working on projects to address concerns and opportunities.

“We’re really excited by the possibilities of the next project phase, including the setting up of a national LGBTQ+ resident group.”

Michael Verrier, chair of L&Q LGBT+ Forum, said: “Every social housing resident should have the right to feel safe and not hide who they are in their own home as well as to feel comfortable to take part in wider resident involvement structures.

“The ‘No Place Like Home Research’ demonstrated this has not been the case for LGBTQ+ social housing residents. The HouseProud Pledge Scheme sets out a template that will lead to a collaborative change to LGBTQ+ residents experiences and see a realisation of LGBTQ+ residents’ slogan of ‘Don’t do it to us, do it with us’.”

Read the full report here

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