The HouseProud Pledge

It's been over two years since we launched the HouseProud Pledge. Since then over 50 social housing providers have reached out to us about the scheme and over 30 have gone on to sign up, with 7 achieving Pledge Pioneer status and 2 getting to Pledge Plus. The Pledge is now a significant tool, ensuring that LGBTQ+ people get a better and inclusive housing service from their landlords. We would like to say a big thank you for your amazing achievements in making this happen.

With this success also comes the need to review how the Pledge is operating. We’re determined to make sure that the scheme continues to go from strength to strength and can develop and grow. We want to particularly focus on how we involve residents more, and ensure that applicants are supported on the journey to be awarded Pledge status. We’re also keen to assess whether HouseProud, with its volunteer steering committee, can best offer this support and continue with robust oversight.  Our review will set out a plan on how best to achieve this, and we will update the scheme in Autumn 2022.

If you are an organisation wanting to sign up to the Pledge scheme, we still want to hear from you. Please register your interest by sending an email to HouseProud_LGBT@outlook.com. We’ll send you an initial confirmation, and then contact you in the Autumn with the next steps. 

If you are an existing organisation in the scheme who has been awarded Pledge status, we’ll contact you regarding the process for reassessment in the Autumn. In the meantime please continue to use the award status and be proud of the achievement.

If you are working towards the pledge but have not yet submitted your evidence for assessment, we will contact you in Autumn regarding the process for submission.

We would like to thank you all for your support, and please look out for further announcements in the future!


The HouseProud Management Committee

Sign your organisation up to the HouseProud Pledge Project today!

We are now actively challenging the sector to sign up to out Pledge Project - you'll be in very good company, and together we can make our homes better for our LGBT+ residents. Here's what it's all about, and please download our latest booklet

 

 

What is the HouseProud Pledge Scheme?

The HouseProud Pledge is a scheme that all social housing providers (housing associations, local authorities and ALMOs) can sign up to, to demonstrate their commitment to LGBTQ+ resident equality and support.  It has been developed by HouseProud and the University of Surrey in association with residents, staff members and sector leaders to address the issues raised by the findings of No Place Like Home?’, the largest study ever undertaken to understand LGBTQ+ experiences of social housing.

 

Why is it needed?

The home is of central importance to LGBTQ+ residents, because it should be a place where people can freely express their sexual orientation and/ or gender identity without fear or prejudice.  Sadly, despite recent changes in equality laws, LGBTQ+ residents continue to experience discrimination in their everyday lives, including in relation to their housing.  Our research found that 60% of trans respondents did not feel that their neighbourhood was a safe place to live and one in five gay men reported modifying their home in some way (e.g. moving pictures or books) to hide their sexual orientation from a visiting repairs operative or housing officer.  A third of respondents also felt that their housing provider was not able to deal effectively with issues like harassment.

 

What is the opportunity?

Residents told us that they want their landlord to move beyond token gestures – the HouseProud Pledge provides a framework for landlords to work with involved residents to take action and demonstrate their commitment to LGBTQ+ equality and support.  With the recent launch of the Social Housing Green Paper, the Government has called on the sector to empower residents and strengthen accountability. The HouseProud Pledge has been designed to help housing providers work with involved LGBTQ+ residents and foster positive relationships.

 

What is involved?  

Many housing providers already work with LGBTQ+ involved residents – signing up to the Scheme offers recognition for this.  The HouseProud Pledge scheme is based on two levels of accreditation – Pledge Pioneer and Pledge Plus.  We ask that all housing providers deliver three core commitments to foster engagement with LGBTQ+ residents (Pledge Pioneer).  Following the delivery of these, landlords can work with involved residents to co-design projects and achieve the higher level of accreditation (Pledge Plus).

 

How do I sign up?

Signing up to the HouseProud Pledge is free of charge. If your organisation has not yet signed up, you can do so now. Simply email HouseProud_LGBT@outlook.com with ‘HouseProud Pledge’ in the title and we’ll get back in touch to confirm some details and get the ball rolling

HouseProud Pledge Pioneer Logo.jpg
Pledge plus logo.jpg

Our 2020-21 Pledge Project Report is full of best practice

Compiled by the HouseProud Pledge Project Officer Kevin Forde

 

The HouseProud Pledge scheme was developed by HouseProud and the University of Surrey as a result of “No Place Like Home”, the HouseProud-commissioned report that found that:

 

  • A third of LGBTQ+ residents of social housing felt their neighbourhood was not a safe place to live as an LGBTQ+ person.

  • A third of survey respondents felt their landlord was not able to deal effectively with issues like harassment.

  • A fifth of gay men reported that they regularly modified their home if visited by their landlord or a repairs person to make their sexual orientation less visible (for example, moving pictures, books and DVDs.

 

The report was a call to action for housing providers to change the way they deliver services to reflect the needs and preferences of LGBTQ+ people. As a result, HouseProud and the University of Surrey, working in partnership with LGBTQ+ social housing residents, developed the Pledge Project.

 

Three workshops were held to develop the scheme. These were with CEOs and senior executives of housing organisations; LGBTQ+ residents; and frontline staff.  The workshops were clear that the scheme needed to be practical, easy to understand and yet robust – residents were clear that this should not be a “tick-box” exercise. As a result, the scheme was developed with two tiers:

 

  • Pledge Pioneer: signatories are asked to agree to three core commitments:

  • Ensure that LGBTQ+ residents can have input at executive/ strategic level;
  • Increase LGBTQ+ visibility through use of the Pledge Pioneer symbol;

  • Initiate a programme of staff training to improve understanding of LGBTQ+ lives.

 

In order to achieve accreditation the organisation needs to show evidence of how they meet the criteria a year after signing up for the scheme. Accreditation is agreed by HouseProud’s Managing Committee.

  • Pledge Plus: 

    • Organisations, working with involved LGBTQ+ residents, agree particular objectives for their own organisation. By tailoring their work to the needs of the organisation as judged by residents, the organisation is aiming higher and achieving more for them.

 

Background to the Pledge Scheme

 

The scheme has been broadly welcomed in the housing sector, for example being endorsed by James Murray when he was Deputy Mayor for Housing for London and Tom Copley, current Deputy Mayor for Housing and Residential Development in London. 

 

It has been designed to address the concerns raised by residents in the No Place Like Home study and ensure that housing providers who signed the Pledge would take action to improve their housing services for LGBTQ+ residents.  It was engineered to work flexibly for all social housing providers, regardless of their size and geographical location. The Scheme provides a framework for landlords to work with involved residents to take action and demonstrate their commitment to LGBTQ+ equality and support. It complements other equality, diversity and inclusion initiatives undertaken by housing providers. It is free to sign up to and has been designed to enhance existing resident involvement activity and ensure that residents can input directly into landlord policy and practice.

 

At a time when equality and diversity have become of increasing importance for housnig providers, both in terms of service delivery and recruitment of staff, the HouseProud Pledge is designed to work in conjunction with other schemes, such as those operated for care by Opening Doors London and the Stonewall Housing Inclusion Standard, which make sure that services in specific areas provide better results for LGBTQ+ residents and drive up resident satisfaction.

 

“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 that this has not been the case for LGBTQ+ social housing residents. In response to the research, 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.” Michael Verrier, L&Q resident

 

 

What has the Pledge Project achieved so far?

 

In a little over eighteen months, 31 organisations, both housing associations and local authorities, have either expressed an interest or signed up for the Pledge project, which is free. 

 

Organisations that have signed up:

  •  Clarion Housing Group
    •  Sir Josiah Mason Charitable Trust

    •  Royal Borough of Greenwich

    •  Home Group

    •  Homes for Lambeth

    •  Irwell Valley

    • L&Q

    • London Borough of Lambeth

    • Mosscare St Vincents

    • Network Homes

    • Notting Hill Genesis

    • Orbit

    • Riverside

    • Sir Josiah Mason Charitable Trust

    • Swan Housing

    • Anchor Hanover

 

 

Between them, these organisations represent over 10% of the social housing sector.

 

This engagement with the project is despite the coronavirus pandemic, which has meant that many organisations have focused on Covid-19 – related issues, with limited resources to devote to other projects. However we would argue that it is at times like these, when inequality between different communities including the LGBTQ+ community is most pronounced, that it is essential to continue projects such as the Pledge project.

 

Once all organisations who have expressed in interest join those who have already signed the pledge it will reach a housing stock of 1 million, a quarter of all social housing in the UK. We will report on progress in our next audit.

 

In addition, interest in the scheme has driven an increase in LGBTQ+ awareness training provided by Stonewall Housing, with five housing providers commissioning training courses. As a result of the Pledge project training has been commissioned for around 150 people.

Pledge Pioneer status 

 

At the end of 2020 seven organisations have achieved Pledge Pioneer status, of which two have also achieved Pledge Plus.

Organisations that have achieved Pledge Pioneer status, and what some have done to get there

 

During a very busy and disruptive year for the world of housing but also globally, we’re delighted that, despite all the other priorities calling on limited resources, the following organisations have achieved Pledge Pioneer status:

    • Anchor Hanover

    • Clarion Housing Group

    • Home Group

    • L&Q

    • Network Homes

    • Notting Hill Genesis

    • Swan Housing

 

 

Network Homes 

 

Network manages and owns 20000 affordable homes across London and Hertfordshire, housing around 38000 people.

 

In order to achieve Pledge Pioneer status, Network Homes provided evidence in the following areas, among others:

 

    • An online meeting of staff and residents to discuss diversity, including the HouseProud Pledge project.

    • An article by their CEO describing a 10 point action plan showing what Network Homes aims to do to embrace diversity, including signing up to the HouseProud Pledge.

    • Mention of the Pledge project in their annual report and promotion of the scheme on social media.

    • Commissioning Stonewall Housing to provide training sessions for frontline staff, including maintenance staff, on LGBTQ+ awareness.

 

 

Swan Housing

 

Swan manage over 11,500 homes across Essex and East London with a secured development pipeline of over 8,000 homes, and have been a long and faithful supporter of HouseProud. 

 

In order to achieve Pledge Pioneer status they have, among other actions:

 

  •  
  • Included information about the HouseProud Pledge project on their website, in their 2019-20 Residents’ Annual Report and in the Autumn 2020 edition of HOME (their magazine for residents), inviting interested residents to get involved. 

  • Reviewed the Terms of Reference and Code of Conduct for their Scrutiny Panel and Resident Consultative Committees to ensure they are inclusive and provide opportunities for LGBTQ+ engagement.

  • Started reviewing the EDI training they already have in place, with plans to include key findings from the HouseProud research and roll out training for operatives who work for their repairs partner to further enhance understanding of LGBTQ+ lives.

 

 

Home Group

 

Home is a housing association, social enterprise and charity with a turnover of over £400m and one of the UK’s largest providers of high quality housing and integrated housing, health and social care. 

 

Among the evidence they submitted, they included the following:

 

    • They have a LGBTQ+ residents’ group, “Rainbow Rooves”, with strategic input into the organisation.

    • They carry out equality impact assessments, including the effect on LGBTQ+ people, as part of the policy development process.

    • There was an article on the HouseProud Pledge in Homelife, their residents’ magazine.

    • They have promoted the scheme on their social media accounts.

    • They have included the experience of LGBTQ+ lives in their diversity e-learning module.

 

 

Organisations who have achieved Pledge Plus 

 

 

Clarion Housing Group

 

Clarion Housing is the UK’s largest housing association, owning and managing 125,000 homes: 350,000 people call a Clarion home their home. 

 

Clarion has achieved Pledge Plus status by:

 

    • Working with the Out and About Group of involved LGBTQ+ residents on what is most important to them that needs to be reviewed. The Out and About Group agreed that they wanted to look at the organisation’s Hate Crime policies and its approach to Hate Crime;

    • A focus group was held with members and an action plan drawn up; 

    •  Working with Clarion’s staff, research was carried out to identify services available in the areas Clarion works in and how to signpost to them;

    • They contacted all 45 police forces in the UK to get copies of their hate crime policies;

    • Reviewed Clarion’s policies and procedures on anti-social behaviour and hate crime;

    • Published and publicised the new approach, which better reflects the experience and needs of LGBTQ+ people.

 

 

Anchor Hanover

 

Anchor Hanover is the largest provider of housing for older people in England, with around 54000 homes.

 

Anchor Hanover achieved Pledge Plus status by:

 

    • Identifying with their LGBT residents’ group the area that they were most interested in, which was how the organisation dealt with anti-social behaviour and Hate Crime;

    •  Working with the group to revise their approach;

    • Publicising and bringing the new approach into operation.

 

 

Organisations that have signed up for the Pledge would normally be expected to achieve Pledge Pioneer status within a year, but 2020 has been an extraordinary year which has meant many have not made the progress they would originally have wanted to.

 

Conclusion

 

There has been excellent progress on the Pledge project in its first year. With increasing awareness of the importance of recognising individual characteristics when delivering services and helping to reduce loneliness, there has never been a better time to engage more social landlords.

 

At HouseProud we are determined to increase the reach of the project over the next year to help produce real improvements for LGBTQ+ people living in social housing.

Appendix 

 

Evidence required one year after sign-up for Pledge Pioneer accreditation

 

Core commitments 

1. Make sure that LGBTQ+ residents can have input at executive/strategic level – provide two of the following:

    • Provide terms of reference of the resident group

    • Evidence of a recent resident group meeting/ calendar of meetings

    • Evidence of policy impact assessments that specifically consider the needs of LGBT+ residents

    • Process map for consulting with LGBT+ residents

    • Profile of a senior champion (director, executive member, (resident) board member) within the organisation.  This should make explicit how this person is championing LGBT+ issues 

    •  Action plan of the LGBT+ resident group

    • Written endorsement from an LGBT+ involved resident to confirm that they are helping to work towards setting up an LGBT+ resident group

 

2. Increase LGBTQ+ visibility – provide two of the following:

    • •Sreenshot of website with Pledge Scheme logo prominently displayed and explanation about what the Pledge Scheme involves (HouseProud can provide the text for this)

    • Mention of the Pledge Scheme in the annual report and explanation about what the Pledge Scheme involves

    • Articles/ news releases published, which explicitly mention involvement in the Pledge Scheme

    • Mention of the Pledge Scheme in presentations given externally

    • Mention of the HouseProud pledge scheme in staff inductions

    • Promotion of the Pledge Scheme on social media

 

3. Initiate a programme of staff training to improve understanding of LGBTQ+ lives.  Housing providers must be able to demonstrate that training is being delivered to staff members on the frontline.  Provide one of the following:

    • Sign-up to the Stonewall Housing Inclusion Standard

    • Evidence of training delivered by a specialist LGBT+ provider with a focus on residents/customers (e.g. Stonewall Housing, Opening Doors, etc)

    • Evidence to demonstrate that generic diversity and inclusion training explicitly covers LGBT+ lives 

    • Screenshots of e-learning used by staff members that specifically addresses  LGBT+ lives (we encourage the use of the findings of ‘No Place Like Home’ for this)

 

Evidence for Pledge Plus

 

Organisations ready to take the step towards Pledge Plus accreditation, must be able to evidence the following:

    • Evidence that residents have been consulted with to decide on Pledge Plus goals 

    • Evidence of an action plan that has been developed with residents to address particular issues

    • Evidence of progress against the goals 

    • Assurance about how the goals have been embedded in the organisation (e.g. they have been included in team work plans; have been included in someone’s objectives, etc) 

    • Evidence of outputs

    • Assurance that progress will be communicated to all residents e.g. news article or evidenced in the organisation’s annual review

    • Written endorsement from a member of the resident group to confirm that they have been involved in co-producing the priorities and in delivering the goals

There's No Place Like Home - the research that created the Pledge

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There's No Place Like Home 

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