Supporting our diverse communities to live well

04 December 2020

Summary: At MTVH, we are committed to supporting all our residents to have a home and to live well. Achieving this ambition includes tackling inequalities that face our residents. Today, our Director of Community Investment, Jahanara Rajkoomar writes about how MTVH is calling for action across society to address ethnic and racial inequalities.

There is an urgent need for change in the UK when it comes to racial inequality. Events of the past year, such as the global Black Lives Matter movement, have provided a stark reminder of the persistence of systemic inequalities and the need for culturally competent policies that incite real, lasting change. As an organisation with a strong social purpose that is guided by our founding values of equality and inclusivity, it was important that we advocate for our residents and communities. This week, we have continue to stand-up for our residents and communities by responding to the government’s consultation on Ethnic Disparities and Inequalities in the UK.

As an organisation founded in the 1950’s to support people from the Windrush generation to live well, a belief in equality is embedded in our history. Today, a diverse range of colleagues across our organisation serve a hugely diverse base of customers and residents across a mixture of different tenured homes. Across our communities, from London, the South East and the Midlands, our role as both a provider of affordable homes and community services means that we have witnessed first-hand the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on households from BAME backgrounds, not only in terms of health, but also by exacerbating existing inequalities.

At the heart of our motivation to respond to this consultation was to advocate for the needs of our residents, amplifying their collective voice as a mechanism for positive change. At MTVH, we have recently launched a new community investment strategy – Empowering Futures – which is grounded in developing a meaningful understanding of the lived experiences and needs of our residents through one-to-one support, community initiatives and local partnerships. We drew upon these close relationships and our local knowledge of diverse communities to respond to the consultation across a number of areas, including BAME experiences and outcomes in the labour market, educational attainment and barriers to learning and community relations and crime.

At MTVH, we believe that good community investment means providing services that promote social justice, open-up opportunities and support better life chances for our residents. We want to empower people to identify and work towards their own solutions, but we also recognise our role as a facilitator on this journey by responsibly representing their interests. As we respond to the ongoing pandemic, we are looking at ways we can further tailor our services to accommodate diverse communities. It is ever more important for social housing providers to seek greater awareness and foster a genuine understanding of the intersectional inequalities impacting residents, such as race and socio-economic status.

We take our role in addressing ethnic inequalities seriously, not only in our communities, but also in how we support our colleagues. In recent weeks, we have drawn on our founding legacy to design long-term plan for transformative culture and leadership changes that recognises, celebrates and promotes diversity in all its forms. There is undoubtedly an appetite for change on this matter amongst MTVH colleagues and residents alike and we are committed to playing our part in addressing racial inequalities in our workplace, communities and wider society.

It is important that social housing organisations stand together and harness residents’ voices responsibly to respond to important questions concerning the realities of racial injustice in the UK. It is my sincere hope that the government uses this insight to inform policies that address the structural and societal challenges that reinforce and exacerbate racial and ethnic inequity across the country. Through a culturally competent approach, social housing providers can provide all families, whatever their background, with the foundation for happy and settled lives where they are heard and valued.