BLOG: How our podcast is creating better conversations about equality in housing
Published: 17 Aug, 2023

The following article was originally published on Inside Housing.

Before we met, we were both exploring equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) in housing independently of each other, but struggling to build momentum. We had found there to be a nervousness in our respective sectors around talking about how people were affected by EDI concerns. People didn’t want to ‘get it wrong’.  

We were nervous too! But we both knew that more work needed to be done to start having meaningful and accessible conversations around housing and EDI that would lead to action.

As soon as we met, it was clear we were on the same page. We had the same passion for exploring and breaking down barriers in housing for everyone. From our first conversation, the spark was ignited.

We recognised that there were examples of great work being done to ensure that practices were inclusive. We saw barriers to accessing safe accommodation being tackled by individual organisations, and believed these stories needed to be told. 

We decided that the best way to utilise our respective platforms was to share the stories of those people with first-hand experience through their day-to-day work. 

Initially, we carried out Q&A interviews with figures from housing and academia, but we realised that the richness of the conversations we were having – and the passion of those we were interviewing – was so interesting and wide-reaching that we needed to have conversations with a lot of people, and we needed to create space to have them in. Without us really planning it, the Equality in Housing podcast was born. 

“Podcast guests across the spectrum have emphasised how we need to put people at the centre of our thinking, and really embed their experiences and needs in the design and delivery of services”

Over the course of the first 10 episodes, our style has progressed as we find our feet as podcasters, and as we learn more about diversity in housing. However, the aims and objectives of the work remain the same: we share stories from across the housing, third and academic sectors, giving voices to people who might not usually engage with either of our organisations in this way. We want to hear exactly what people are experiencing, either first-hand from their own housing experiences, or from the perspective of a practitioner. 

Between us, we draw together perspectives from the frontline, where we support people from minoritised groups to find suitable housing, as well as from housing research and policy.

Through the podcast, we are interested in hearing what the ‘real time’ challenges are, what individuals and organisations are doing to make a more-just housing system for people, and what role researchers can play in supporting good work through the generation of accessible data and evidence.  

We launched in November 2022, and since then we have already learned so much. We think one of the most striking things is how we really need to go right back to basics when we are thinking about the ways in which the housing system can be more equitable. 

Podcast guests across the spectrum have emphasised that we need to put people at the centre of our thinking, and really embed their experiences and needs in the design and delivery of services. In our “Learning Disabilities” episode, we heard from Charlie McMillan, chief executive of the Scottish Commission for People with Learning Disabilities, who explained that we often paint minority groups as homogenous.

“People with learning disabilities are as diverse as everyone else. No two people with a learning disability are the same, and I think we absolutely do them a huge disservice, and try and put square pegs into round holes all the time,” he told us. 

Having people at the centre of housing policy and practice is another key message that comes up time and time again. As Janice Stevenson, development officer at LGBT Youth Scotland, highlighted, this also needs to be present in the research we do. “I will advocate my entire life that having real lived experience there in the room and involved – that is key,” she said. 

“We decided that the best way to utilise our respective platforms was to share the stories of those people with first-hand experience”

As we move forward with the podcast, we have much more in the pipeline. Future episodes will explore housing discrimination and inequality through the lens of race, the experience of migrants coming to the UK, and for those with a care background. We will be at the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations’ The Gathering in November, where we will be doing our first live recording of the podcast, with an audience of up to 300. 

Equality in Housing aims to provide a platform for informal, candid conversations about the day-to-day work and experiences of people in a contemporary housing system, and to start to feed this into policy and practice. 

We want to help to find ways to ensure the whole system is connected, to ensure that everyone has the opportunity for a positive housing future, no matter who they are. 

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