To really transform perceptions of housing associations, we need to do three things.
1. Tell a compelling shared story
Politicians and opinion formers felt the sector was bad at defining itself. The public had heard of housing associations, but had no clear idea of what we are and what we do.
In the absence of us telling our own story, negative views and misconceptions have taken hold, among politicians and opinion formers in particular, including that we don’t build enough homes, that we’re inefficient and that we’re old-fashioned.
The only way to tackle this is by creating a shared story that describes what’s truly at the heart of housing associations, what unites us and makes us different from other housing providers, and by getting that message out to different audiences.
2. Build the relationships we need
Our perceptions audit showed that the sector currently has no instinctive political allies – although both right and left see us playing a crucial role in Britain’s housing future and are there to be won over.
This presents us with a clear challenge and opportunity: we must reposition the sector as the trusted partners of those who have the greatest influence over our future.
To do this, the sector needs to come together in a coordinated way to influence with impact. We will understand where the sector’s relationships lie, pinpoint target politicians and create tailored, consistent messages to turn them into powerful advocates of our sector. This work will kick off a long-term push to secure the transformative policy changes we need for the next General Election.
3. Deliver on the substance
Stories and relationships are nothing of course without the substance to back it up. Here, we’re starting from a strong position:
- housing associations built a third of all homes in 2015
- housing associations have huge impact in local communities
- our research shows that the more stakeholders interact with associations, the more they see their value.
But there are areas where we can do even more. We’re facing bigger changes to our operating environment than at any point in our recent history, and businesses will need to be agile and adapt to thrive in this new world. We need to evidence the impact of what we do, demonstrate how efficient we are and show that we’re delivering on local needs (be that house building, regeneration or being a great landlord).
To support and facilitate this process we’ll be running peer-to-peer sessions at workshops around the country where these issues and more will be debated and discussed.
How will we deliver these three things?
We’ll be running Owning our Future workshops around the country to work through these three steps. At these workshops, we will:
- debate and define in facilitated sessions our shared story and how to get it out to key audiences
- run influencing masterclasses to ensure we’re as influential as possible, leading up to the launch of an Influencing Academy in the summer
- facilitate peer to peer learning.
How can I get involved?
Repositioning is more of a process than an event and will require a concerted effort from all of us. This is a long-term strategy that runs from now until the next General Election in 2020, but you can start that work today with three simple actions:
1. Ensure repositioning is a strategic priority
Consider discussing the sector image review with boards, executive teams and colleagues, making transforming perceptions of the sector a key priority for your organisation.
2. Identify an influencing champion
Pinpoint a named contact who can work with us to drive this work and play an active role in repositioning the sector.
3. Get involved in Owning Our Future workshops
We have workshops taking place around the country. Dates are available from this page.
Please get in touch with details of your champions and any questions or comments.