HACT (Housing Associations’ Charitable Trust) launched their “Together for Communities” report last week, a summary of learning from 12 projects that have been exploring how housing providers could provide practical assistance and development support to independent community-owned and led organisations, described as “community anchors”, working in more deprived neighbourhoods.
“Efforts to transform our neighbourhoods must be rooted in the experiences of the people who live there”
“The provision of housing must be about more than just bricks and mortar – social housing providers are at their most successful when they value and engage with their communities and actively seek to identify and meet the needs of those at the margins.”
Learning from the project almost exactly mirrors our experience at People’s Voice Media in delivering Community Reporter Programmes and running consultations and engagement exercises within housing associations.
It was interesting to read that the research found partnerships created between housing providers and community based groups were:
- Sustainable – Even in the current economic difficulties, housing associations, with both assets and a secure revenue stream are amongst the most robust and sustainable organisations in the social enterprise, voluntary and community sectors.
- Replicable – Housing associations and community anchors exist in pretty well every corner of the UK.
- Accountable – Housing associations have systems in place to ensure transparency – adequate consultation, tenant empowerment and eﬀective governance which can benefit wider partnerships; community groups often have close and direct links to the communities they serve.
- Complementary – Most housing associations are not primarily involved in community development. Community anchors are not primarily housing organisations. But together each can benefit financially and organisationally.
- Innovative – Inter trading between partners can be important – the energy and imagination shown by the community anchors and the social entrepreneurs at their heart is impressive; many housing associations are also led by individuals whose entrepreneurial skills oﬀer significant opportunities for joint working.
It’s always good to read findings like these in black and white as it’s something we’ve also found from working in partnership with housing associations and community organisations, jointly developing solutions that best fit their needs.
The full report can be found at http://hact.org.uk/hact-launches-the-final-report-from-the-together-for-communities-project.
There’s an example of some of our work with housing associations in this video: