Impact Housing AssociationBack to Case studies
“The Housing Corporation is strongly committed to equality and diversity. We have an obligation to respond to the diversity needs of our communities. We must ensure that our services are fully reflective of the communities in which we live. This is not only a moral obligation but also a business dynamic without recognition of which we will eventually fail.”The Rt Hon Baroness Dean of Thornton-le-Flyde, Chairperson
The Housing Corporation
The Initial Impulse
Developing a diversity agenda had been strongly alive in Impact Housing Association since 2001.
Impact Housing Association is an innovative housing association working mainly in Cumbria.
It provides good quality, affordable social housing for people on low incomes as well as a substantial amount of supported housing for vulnerable people.
One of the key challenges was to create a process which met the Housing Corporation agenda of promoting race issues whilst also making sense to people working in an organisation which serves an area with a low BME (Black, Minority Ethnic) population; Carlisle for example is 99.1% white.
A number of approaches were explored.
Some were rejected because they would apply an externally designed and potentially rigid process onto the organisational form that is Impact.
These approaches did not recognise nor validate the important work that Impact, in collaboration with Oasis, had already done in identifying values and of internal ways of working.
Shaping a way forward
In 2003 a way forward was identified which, it was anticipated, would:
- reflect organisational values of collaboration and participation
- recognise the context in which Impact is operating
- focus on a specific area of service delivery
- meet a number of external criteria and requirements e.g. Housing Corporation Race Agenda.
This involved creating a process specifically designed to reflect the context in which Impact operated.
The purpose was to explore, with a group of staff, their understanding of and approaches to diversity in general and race issues in particular.
The study was set in a women’s refuge – the part of Impact’s service where staff came most into contact with clients from BME communities.
The successful study was seen by staff as ‘very positive’, raising awareness of diversity within the service and recognising and reinforcing good practice.
It made it possible to identify and highlight staff development and training needs which previously may not have been considered as necessary or important.
Engaging in this process as a first step also had immense value in terms of developing a tailor-made, in-house programme on difference and diversity within Impact.
This two-day programme was co-facilitated by an Associate from Oasis and a Manager from Impact Housing and received very positive evaluations from participants.