I wish it could be #Housingday, everyday!

#Housingday demonstrates all that is great with the Social Housing Industry.  The energy, enthusiasm and positivity is infectious.  The pride in the work that gets done is insurmountable, and understandably so.  You just need to look at the hundreds of tweets detailing the spectrum of work that goes on around the Country repairing properties, assisting young and old to live independently, improving the employability of tenants, linking with the local community- and the list goes on.

And as good as all this is, it also illustrates one of the key issues.

The principle is sound- to increase the awareness of the positive impact that Housing organisations have on tenants lives.  And it will do that.  However, a large majority of these positive stories will be to people who already know about it.  Yes, the hope is that some people will see the hashtag trending, and have a look at what its all about but in comparison to the significantly detrimental impact programmes like Benefits Street, or sensationalised tabloid stories have, it is likely to be but a drop in the ocean.

Now I’m not saying that its not worthwhile, because it absolutely is.  But we need to reach a wider audience, and on a more regular basis.

I’m a relatively new dad.  My son is 21 months old and is the centre of my universe.  And I’ve become that annoying dad who is so proud of his little man, that I seem to be able to find any opportunity to get him into conversation.  Not only to the obvious family and friends groups, but pure strangers.  Someone on the train who has a child (“ahh, my son does that” I say, and think silently in my head, “but better”).  Or someone I interview at work (” so I see you have 2 children, I have a son blah blah).  I’m sure its only a matter of time before a trap some other unsuspecting member of the public and show them the 1342 similar pictures on my phone…beware, it could be you!

There is a point to me telling you this.

I think we need to have a similar approach to promoting the work done in Housing.  Yes, we need to tell everyone in our sphere of work because that will help with information sharing and collaboration, but we need to be proud about Social Housing and boast to anyone that will listen.  They say that it takes 12 positive experiences to negate 1 negative one, so its no mean feat to drown out the white noise created by the negative press.  But  IT IS eminently achievable if we take the impetus from #Housingday and carry this on throughout every day.  Look outside your office window and see which organisations are in your “community” and engage with them on a professional front- is there anyway that you can both benefit from working together- apprenticeships, work shadowing etc.  They don’t need to necessarily transact with Housing to be engaged.

Once these “outsiders” are involved, they will go out into their own spheres of work and promote on our behalf and soon enough the sensationalised headlines from Benefits Street et al will be drowned out by the positive noise coming from every other angle!

UK Housing does fantastic work.  Lets not just tell each other, lets tell everyone else!


Stop, collaborate and Listen!

ViceI promise my music taste is much better than my blog titles suggest- one from McFly and now one from the original white rapper, Vanilla Ice!!  But he is wiser than his step haircut and garish shellsuit suggests!

However, if I ever quote Tinchy Strider and the Chuckle Brothers, you have my permission to stone me.

I don’t want this blog wouldn’t be a rant but a couple of things have happened this week which have confused, frustrated and annoyed me about some of the systems that exist in my sphere of work.  Previously good services or systems have been eroded through funding issues and cut backs that have resulted in them losing sight of their aims or even their entire raison d’etre.  My first frustration (and subsequently the theme to this particular blog) is…

…The Job centre…

The clue is in the title.  It is there to help those people who don’t have a job, get one.  Simple right?  To be a link to employment opportunities, to advise on ways to improve your employability and to be a centre where you can get a job!  Simple really.  The premise makes sense and by and large, thats what it does.

However, over the last few years, it seems to be more of a benefits surveillance service-there to make sure that those people claiming job seekers are actually looking for jobs.  I have had two people either turn down an interview or have to re-arrange the times for an interview, in order to go to the Job Centre to report that they still haven’t got a job……… is it just me, or is that ridiculous??  I know why its come about, but surely common sense should prevail here??  Bureacracy for bureacracy’s sake and creating more work and less time for everyone involved.

Its an example of people being busy getting busy- heads down and working hard to deliver meaningless KPIs which don’t actually feed into the ACTUAL goal- getting people jobs.  Rather than demonstrating how many people you have made apply for roles that are unsuitable, listen to what the jobseeker wants and work with them to achieve that.  And if their aspirations are unrealistic, then you either try and find a way to make it work, or you work on reviewing their aspirations to make them achievable.

Making people apply for roles not only creates more work further down the chain, but it also demotivates the jobseeker and makes them think there is nothing out there for them.

Surely, we can be doing better than this?

In the connected world, it should be easy to work in collaboration, not only with the jobseekers themselves, but with other organisations that can help support their aims.  Is there a remote way to make sure people are legitinate jobseekers, which can then mean that those people at the Job Centre can work in positive and proactive ways to help people get jobs.  They could link up with employers, agencies, training companies rather than work against them by passing the buck to them.  They could research areas that their clients are interested in and signpost them effectively rather than tell them to send their CV to every job possible no matter how irrelevant to their skill set.  They could promote their clients and empower them rather than process them as a number and demotivate them.

The current system is fundamentally broken and we need to fix it from grassroots level and on a local basis.  I’d be keen to know where this is happening well and how we can replicate this.

So whilst O2 are telling us to “be more dog”, I am starting my own viral call to arms…lets “be more Vanilla Ice” and Stop, collaborate and listen!