At the moment, changes in policy are looking to centre the views of social housing residents in the UK. These changes will aim to make sure that the services that people experience are better and that housing associations and local authorities are doing their job in line with the expectations of residents. One of topics at the heart of the expected changes will be related to neighbourhoods and we’re investigating what that means for social housing residents.
Understanding a local area better means finding out about the people living in that neighbourhood and most importantly, how they feel about it. We have been speaking to residents up and down the country for our Resident Voice IndexTM project in order to build questions that will give a picture of how social housing residents feel about their neighbourhoods.
What is a neighbourhood?
Normally, the first way that a neighbourhood is defined is by its geography. It could be a village, a borough and in some circumstances, it could be as small as a street or an estate. But geography alone can be a limiting way to define a neighbourhood.
Alongside physical boundaries, it’s worth considering its features. These include the facilities and services a neighbourhood has like shops, schools, doctors or green spaces.
The next and most important part of a neighbourhood is a person’s experience of that place. What it means to different people varies across our lifetimes. For example, knowing that there is a soft play centre nearby would only really be important to parents, carers or people who worked there.
Experiences of a neighbourhood alongside personal outlook are what makes a neighbourhood a community; it’s a sense of belonging.
The Resident Voice IndexTM project
This spring, social housing residents were invited to answer questions anonymously about their overall experience of living in social housing. Our first survey in the long-running Resident Voice IndexTM project asked questions about their neighbourhoods.
We split answers by geography, using the first letters of a postcode to give a general overview of how a certain area feels about a topic without undermining anybody’s anonymity.
Other questions established the services and facilities a neighbourhood contains to see how well provisioned it is and where there might be need for improvement. What was most important to find out were people’s feelings about their neighbourhood; things like how that sense of belonging could be improved and whose responsibility it is to make change happen in order for there to be a stronger sense of belonging to a neighbourhood.
“I get this very strong feeling that only if people want to be part of a community that it will move forward.“Resident participant, Resident Voice IndexTM workshop
The results of the questions we asked will be public and free to anyone who wants to access them. We are really looking forward to sharing what residents think about their neighbourhoods and communities.