Tackling Stigma in the Social Housing sector: Let’s apply the ‘Mum-Test’

In our latest ‘Your Voice’ forum, which bring together tenants and sector experts to discuss key issues facing the housing sector, we focused on tackling stigma in the social housing sector.

Tracey Lyth, Group Head of Customer Success writes:

The forum was hosted with Tpas and joined by guest speakers from See the Person and CIH, alongside a great representation of tenants from contracts as far as North Lanarkshire to Exeter.

We heard how culture, behaviour and communication were key areas that had an impact on shaping the conversation around social housing stigma, the experience of our tenants and how they feel. Our service puts us in their homes every day and we all have a real opportunity to make a difference in tackling stigma.

Social housing stigma isn't new. Since the term 'social housing' was coined in the '90s, there have been negative connotations attributed to people living in social housing; with assumptions made about residents' situations, motivation and behaviour.

This is a real challenge that has a big impact on the individuals and communities where we work and live. This has come through strongly in much of the research done across the sector and has even contributed to the recommendations and themes within the Government White Paper on Social Housing.

Many people in social housing experience stigma because of where they live and research by See The Person has revealed how the practices of social housing organisations and professionals can contribute to perpetuating negative stereotypes. The Chartered Institute of Housing and See The Person have together developed a guide to support organisations working in the social housing sector and the people who work for them. It gives examples of how those in the housing sector can reflect on what they do and the impact it has so, that they can work with tenants to tackle stigma and develop relationships of mutual respect.

Excellent customer service has always been at the heart of how Mears operates, with Your Voice forming a key part of how we engage and work with tenants to shape our service standards. Your Voice aims to drive action from insight and advance service standards for Mears customers (whoever they are, wherever they live and whatever their circumstances), through customer-led scrutiny, challenge and support.

A lasting comment that stayed with me from the session was from the ‘See the Person’ team who talked about the ‘Mum test’, which is asking yourself the question - would the job you have just done, or the way you have delivered that last service be good enough for your mum?

Simple and to the point.

Recommendations from this session on tackling stigma, will now be reported back to the Mears PLC Board and will be incorporated our staff training sessions to ensure we act on the learnings and help break stereotypes.

Read the full forum minutes here.