Round Table Event – Exploring Vulnerability

5 March 2024

Our Directors and Co-founders, Lucy and Karen were invited to speak at the Northern Housing Consortium round table event exploring vulnerability and reflecting on the Housing Ombudsman recent spotlight report ‘Attitudes, Respect and Rights: Relationship of Equals’. This online session provided housing professionals with the opportunity to share best practice in relation to not just their policy, but how this translates into front-line service delivery.

The session was arranged in response to feedback from members of the Northern Housing Consortium who had highlighted the challenge of knowing where to start. They were looking for best practice examples to support their own journey to develop a meaningful and adaptable vulnerability policy. The Housing Ombudsman’s recent focus on this area highlights how the housing sector needs a broader, more embracing concept of vulnerability that is shaped around individual circumstances and which holds no shame or stigma.

Lucy began the session by providing insight into the training and guidance we offer to enhance an organisation’s approach to vulnerability. She shared a case study of our experience of supporting a large housing providers to reimagine their approach to vulnerability and tailoring service through recognising (and overcoming) four key barriers:

  1. Computer Say No – risk aversion with an unnecessarily strict adherence to policy and process
  2. A lack of empathy and understanding, not putting yourself in someone else’s shoes and actively listening to understand
  3. Overcoming our bias and assumption, recognising the blind spots we all have and proactively mitigating these
  4. Operating in silos – a lack of team work is cited in the vast majority of Housing Ombudsman maladministration judgements

Karen then shared the top tips identified from the project so far, namely:

  • test your policy against what happens on the front line
  • look at previous complaints received to identify your barriers
  • get your managers on board so they can support their teams to get this right
  • don’t forget about your Contact Centre – they are the eyes and ears of the organisation
  • involve your residents as their feedback is invaluable
  • deliver training to mixed groups of colleagues to enhance team working

The over-arching learning however was not to consider vulnerability in isolation. All housing providers have competing demands on their limited resources. Equipping colleagues to recognise, respond and record vulnerability effectively aligns with other key agendas including customer care and professionalism in the sector. Getting this right really is a win-win.

The session was thought-provoking with delegates supported to explore innovative approaches that recognise and accommodate the diverse needs of their residents.

For more information on how Positive About Inclusion can support your organisation’s approach to vulnerability and more, please get in touch.

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