#Housingday demonstrates all that is great with the Social Housing Industry. The energy, enthusiasm and positivity is infectious. The pride in the work that gets done is insurmountable, and understandably so. You just need to look at the hundreds of tweets detailing the spectrum of work that goes on around the Country repairing properties, assisting young and old to live independently, improving the employability of tenants, linking with the local community- and the list goes on.
And as good as all this is, it also illustrates one of the key issues.
The principle is sound- to increase the awareness of the positive impact that Housing organisations have on tenants lives. And it will do that. However, a large majority of these positive stories will be to people who already know about it. Yes, the hope is that some people will see the hashtag trending, and have a look at what its all about but in comparison to the significantly detrimental impact programmes like Benefits Street, or sensationalised tabloid stories have, it is likely to be but a drop in the ocean.
Now I’m not saying that its not worthwhile, because it absolutely is. But we need to reach a wider audience, and on a more regular basis.
I’m a relatively new dad. My son is 21 months old and is the centre of my universe. And I’ve become that annoying dad who is so proud of his little man, that I seem to be able to find any opportunity to get him into conversation. Not only to the obvious family and friends groups, but pure strangers. Someone on the train who has a child (“ahh, my son does that” I say, and think silently in my head, “but better”). Or someone I interview at work (” so I see you have 2 children, I have a son blah blah). I’m sure its only a matter of time before a trap some other unsuspecting member of the public and show them the 1342 similar pictures on my phone…beware, it could be you!
There is a point to me telling you this.
I think we need to have a similar approach to promoting the work done in Housing. Yes, we need to tell everyone in our sphere of work because that will help with information sharing and collaboration, but we need to be proud about Social Housing and boast to anyone that will listen. They say that it takes 12 positive experiences to negate 1 negative one, so its no mean feat to drown out the white noise created by the negative press. But IT IS eminently achievable if we take the impetus from #Housingday and carry this on throughout every day. Look outside your office window and see which organisations are in your “community” and engage with them on a professional front- is there anyway that you can both benefit from working together- apprenticeships, work shadowing etc. They don’t need to necessarily transact with Housing to be engaged.
Once these “outsiders” are involved, they will go out into their own spheres of work and promote on our behalf and soon enough the sensationalised headlines from Benefits Street et al will be drowned out by the positive noise coming from every other angle!
UK Housing does fantastic work. Lets not just tell each other, lets tell everyone else!