Stop, support and listen…

The housing association movement was founded on the values of good health and support for the vulnerable, says Aster Foundation’s Director, Cam Kinsella.

And those values are just as important now as they were 100 years ago.

Social housing emerged at the turn of the 21st Century as a philanthropic response to poor health conditions present in many communities.

The level of social concern for health and housing encouraged government to provide some level of accommodation for those most in need.

This was the start of the housing association movement, one which was founded on good health, a support for the most vulnerable, community sustainment and continuing innovation.

Following changes within the housing sector, many have been looking at new ways to adapt for a growing, more diverse customer base; ways to diversify how we work with our communities, but at the same tome focus on what we do best.

In essence, it’s about going back to our roots.

I will never advocate for austerity or be okay with the challenges people have faced in this country due to the constant squeeze on the public purse.

What I will be forever thankful for is the impact the squeeze has had on our mentality as a sector in forcing us to be more collaborative in our work.

Although our creative sector has shown some fantastic examples of collaborative working between housing and health, I don’t feel we have gone far enough.

There is still too much competition for funding and not enough collaboration, and because of this, we are perpetuating the ‘postcode lottery’ of services and support available across our country.

How much better would it be if we were to create a supportive learning environment where each of us could play a part in developing each other and delivering change, one that celebrates shared thinking, shared resources and shared influence.

The Aster Foundation and NHS South, Central and West Commissioning Support Unit (NHS SCW CSU) is creating a Housing and Health Collective.

Our aim is to work together as one team to learn, grow and create systematic change through joining up housing, health and communities across NHS SCW CSU’s operating areas.

We hope that through working together, we can create a place-based partnership that utilises strengths and assets to their fullest.

The difference in our approach will be how we work together for mutual benefit, ensuring both housing and health work toward measurable improvements for the communities in which we operate, all while ensuring the models we create remain sustainable.

We always have been and always will be stronger together.

Isn’t that the definition of ‘community’?