Black History Month 2021

The theme for this year’s Black History Month is Proud to Be; at SWPA we can’t think of a better message to get behind. On a personal level we hope that our colleagues, partners, customers, and suppliers all feel proud of who they are and their heritage – and that they can express it in the inclusive environment we strive for as part of LHC.

Beyond the important message of the month, it is also an important time for reflection and to remember the history of our black communities. In housing, as in other areas, this history is still influencing communities today. This systemic and institutionalised racism must be recognised by everyone – without acknowledgement we can’t work to overcome it.

In response to the poor conditions, slumlords and overt racism communities faced, many BAME housing associations were formed. Their aim was to address the clear and obvious disadvantage facing some communities in accessing good quality affordable housing. They have achieved much more than this over the decades that they have been active. They became pioneers in the UK, pushing into the mainstream issues of race, equality, and inclusion.

Despite the incredible and admirable changes they have made; the systemic and institutionalised racism still exists and affects our communities today. For example, recent Shelter research has found that Black people are 70% more likely to be affected by the country’s housing crisis compared with white people.

BAME people are also more likely to suffer from damp and mouldy conditions and fuel poverty than white people.

While these facts are deeply upsetting and shocking, now more than ever they must be our call to arms. So, how do we achieve equitable communities? To look at this we have turned to groups directly involved with black communities.

BAME in Property have discussed how effective stakeholder and community engagement play a role in tackling racial housing inequalities and the Black South West Network have identified key recommendations for housing BAME communities in Bristol, these include greater investment in BAME-led/specific housing associations and genuinely affordable homes.

There are many more resources and research documents out there that can guide our decisions and help us to understand the challenges that black communities face. We must not forget that most social housing organisations came in to being to address the housing needs of marginalised communities, many of them of BAME - when we listen and respond to these communities amazing change can happen.

As a framework and DPS provider, SWPA can help all social housing providers improve their current housing stock and build more homes.

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