In early April 2021 we spoke to social housing residents about how they felt engagement should be approached by their housing providers, as well as by service providers like us. Here we’ll give you a breakdown of what they had to say and some of the reasons you should be giving your opinion.
Surveys and statistics
‘Lies, damned lies and statistics’ is a phrase popularised in the 1800s and early 1900s. It is attributed to many people but can be linked to the author of ‘The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn’, Mark Twain. Commonly used at the time, the phrase describes when a number or statistic is used to support an argument – even if it might be weak or untrue.
But this does not mean that good statistics aren’t important! Gathering information through tools like surveys to produce these stats is essential for creating policy, building best practice and finding out what a broad section of society feels about a topic.
The resident opinion
We spoke to residents and separately, to housing providers to find out what communication between them was like at the moment and understand the ways in which they wanted to see engagement improved. We discovered that involved resident groups worry that they are not hearing from a wider group of people beyond “the same bums on seats.” Online surveys and consultation can be really useful for reaching out to those who may not want, or be unable to give up a lot of their time to improve their local area or services.
“The main issue is that it tends to always be the same core of people. What I am interested in is how to reach out to get new people involved; it tends to be the same faces always who are doing things.“Resident participant, Resident Voice IndexTM workshop
Why answer surveys?
So, what are some of the reasons that people answer surveys?
- Self-perception: By answering survey questions and seeing the results, people hope to learn more about themselves or their society
- Voice: Surveys can be a chance to have your opinion heard, whether negative or positive
- Obligation: Some people feel like they have to take a survey if they are presented with one
- Need to help: When the reason for asking questions and the potential impact of the results is explained, many people feel like it’s worthwhile getting involved
Some residents don’t have a lot of time to be heavily involved with resident engagement, however will still want to make an impact and have their voices heard. For those people, quick chances to give an honest opinion and insight can be a great help to organisations and the involved residents working to find out more about their communities.
The resident voice
Our own resident engagement project, the Resident Voice IndexTM asks residents questions in order to share what those living in social housing think about their homes, communities and lives. The research gathered will be anonymous and given away for free to residents, housing associations, local authorities and the general public.