Let's apply the 'Mum Test'

Thursday 11th of March 2021

Tpas have been supporting Mears to run a series of ‘Your Voice Customer forums’ which bring together tenants and sector experts to discuss key issues facing the housing sector. Tracey Lyth, Group Head of Customer Success blogs about what she took from the latest forum event which focussed on tackling stigma in social housing.

The topic for discussion this month was to discuss tackling stigma in the social housing sector. Your Voice Customer Forum, hosted with Tpas and joined by guest speakers from See the Person and CIH, alongside tenants from contracts as far as North Lanarkshire to Exeter, a great tenant representation.

Tackling stigma in the social housing sector is a real challenge for the sector and it is up to all of us to work collaboratively to help improve perceptions in this area.

Social housing stigma isn't new. Since the term 'social housing' was coined in the '90s, there have been negative connotations attributed to people living in social housing; with assumptions made about residents' situations, motivation and behaviour.

This is a real challenge that has a big impact on individuals and communities, where we work and live. This has come through strongly in much of the research done across the sector and has even contributed to the recommendations and themes within the Government White Paper on Social Housing.

Many people in social housing experience stigma because of where they live and research by See The Person has revealed how the practices of social housing organisations and professionals can contribute to perpetuating negatives stereotypes. Chartered Institute of Housing and See The Person together have developed this guide, to support organisations working in the social housing sector and the people who work for them to reflect on what they do and the impact it has so that they can work with tenants to tackle stigma and develop relationships of mutual respect.

Excellent customer service has always been at the heart of how Mears operates, with Your Voice, a key part of how we engage and work with tenants to shape our service standards. Your Voice aims to drive action from insight and advance service standards for Mears customers (whoever they are, wherever they live and whatever their circumstances), through customer-led scrutiny, challenge and support.

We heard how culture, behaviour and communication were key areas that had an impact on shaping the conversation around social housing stigma, and the experience of our tenants and how they feel. Our service puts us in their homes every day, and we all have a real opportunity to make a difference in tackling stigma.

We see our customers as invited guests to a party and we are the hosts. It’s our job to make the service we deliver a little bit better every day. Understanding and tackling stigma with our practice, training and service delivery will be a key focus we will be working on alongside the Mears Your Voice scrutiny board .

A lasting comment that stayed with me today from our forum was from the ‘See the Person’ campaign team who talked about the ‘Mum test’, which is asking yourself the question - would the job you have just done, or the way you have delivered that last service is good enough for your mum?

Simple and to the point.

Further recommendations from today will be considered by Your Board and within our Making a Positive Difference training.

Let’s all think about the ‘Mum Test’ and help break stereotypes.