One of the most important steps we take when designing the Resident Voice Index™ surveys is talking to social housing residents about the topics we should explore. These sessions help us know if we are on the right track with the themes we choose. In August and October, we got to speak to residents about the questions that should be asked in the Community Support & Life After Lockdown survey, looking at how communities have coped since the pandemic began and how optimistic people were for the future.
To learn more about the themes of this survey, read our more detailed article about it here.
During the sessions, our attendees were incredibly passionate about what we were discussing and alongside the main conversation, the chat function was on fire with people giving their input on the points that came up. Here, we share some of the key topics of conversation that came up during these sessions.
Levels of stress
Residents spoke of communities and people worn down by events since March 2020, noticing that in themselves and in others around them, the ability to cope or react well had been affected. Most people spoke of a personal responsibility to control their reactions to circumstances, even when it’s difficult – and the power of connecting with others during these times.
“Adversity brings people together. When there’s a community problem, which is affecting people’s ability to get on with their peaceful routines, then they will come together to get it sorted.“Resident, Resident Voice Index™ workshop
One attendee said that their resolve could be tested when they came across poor communication from housing providers. There was also a consensus that more work needed to be done by large housing associations that have merged with many smaller ones to communicate well with residents.
Spaces to come together
During the sessions, we discussed the things that had helped people throughout the pandemic and what could help communities to connect and come together in the future.
One attendee spoke lovingly of the communal garden that became a focus point for their estate, where people connected and formed friendships with one another.
“What’s helped our communities thrive is by doing things in green spaces. We have communal gardens and up until a few years ago, those were in a miserable state. Some local residents have worked to actually improve those over a few years but as we went into the pandemic, those gardens really bloomed. It lifted people. We really saw the benefit of the grounds being beautiful, being somewhere where people felt comfortable to sit out. We would meet within the Covid restrictions just to say hello. It’s that connection with people; it’s those chance encounters.“Resident, Resident Voice Index™ workshop
Support from housing providers
There was a mixed set of responses when we asked about how people’s housing providers offered support across the lockdowns and beyond. Some communities, like the one described below, received help from housing providers in the face of the pandemic emergency. Others weren’t as lucky and spoke of a different experience.
“Our housing providers rang around asking how their residents were coping and posted a leaflet (which was also posted by the local council) about free services available – free collection of medicines, shopping and counselling. They stepped up and have carried on being more involved than before the pandemic.“Resident, Resident Voice Index™ workshop
Attendees at the Community Support & Life After Lockdown workshops spoke about feeling empowered by talking to others. One told us how it had been “a very rewarding session, clearly we are all experiencing very similar problems and hopefully now, after the pandemic, matters will be sorted in time.” Finding groups with other residents and sharing experiences is a great way to connect with others and discuss potential solutions and actions.
Without the residents who speak to us during the research phases and of course, those of you who answer the surveys, there would not be a Resident Voice Index™. Thank you for taking part.
If you haven’t yet taken the Community Support & Life After Lockdown survey or would like to share it with other residents that you know living in social housing, please click on or share the link here.