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 over the last month for our Resident Voice Index™ 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 on the radar and important to parents, carers or people who worked there.
Personal experiences of a neighbourhood alongside personal outlook are what makes a neighbourhood a community; it’s a sense of belonging.
The Resident Voice Index™ project
Last week, we told you about a long-term project that we’re going to be running, called the Resident Voice Index™. This spring, HomeSwapper users will be invited to answer questions anonymously about the overall experience of living in social housing. Our first survey will ask you questions about your neighbourhood.
We will split answers by geography, using the first letters of a postcode. This will give a general overview of how a certain area feels about a topic without undermining anybody’s anonymity.
Other questions will establish the services and facilities a neighbourhood contains to see how well provisioned it is and where there might be need for improvement. What is most important to find out are people’s feelings about their neighbourhood; things like how that sense of belonging could be improved and who’s responsibility it is to make change happen in order for there to be a stronger sense of belonging in 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 insight from our April focus groups
The results of the questions we are going to ask will be public and free to anyone who wants to access them. One of the ways that the results could be used by swappers is to see what other social housing residents say about a community. If you spot a home that ticks most but not all of your boxes, then you might be convinced to give it another chance because of the positive impression given about it by the true resident voice.
We are really looking forward to learning what you think about your ‘neighbourhood’ and the feelings you have about where you live. Keep your eyes peeled and if you have any other questions, you can visit our FAQs here or get in contact with us at info.ResidentVoice@mrisoftware.com.
The HomeSwapper Customer Support team are always on hand to give advice and tips on how to get the most from HomeSwapper. They deal with Swappers every day and have a unique insight and view on the thousands of successful swaps that take place on HomeSwapper.