Benefit to Society is a campaign to tackle negative stereotypes of people living in social housing. It unites 30 housing organisations across England.
By Sarita-Marie Rehman-Wall and Catherine Little, 'Benefit to Society' campaign
Research commissioned by the group shows that a reduction in numbers of social housing available, along with changes to housing policy and pejorative media programming, has led to a rise in stigma around the sector. 90% of tenants living in social housing say that the media portrays a stereotype of social housing tenants.
Our research also shows that the public overestimate rates of unemployment amongst people living in social housing. The facts show that 70% of tenants are in work or are retired, with just 7% unemployed. The remaining people are unable to work due to caring responsibilities or disability.
The research also shows that people living in social housing recognise the value of community in their local area, and of volunteering, caring and work roles. They view an increase in stigma as being one of the major challenges to the tenure and to their well-being.
Sarita-Marie Rehman-Wall, a member of the Benefit to Society Steering Group writes below about why the campaign matters to her personally:
As a social housing tenant, raising both my children and grandchildren in social housing, the Benefit to Society Campaign matters to me because it has instilled in me a sense of absolute pride and genuine empowerment. It has afforded myself and my fellow tenants across the UK both a platform and a united voice that is finally at long last being heard. For far too long, social housing tenants have been demonised and so unfairly and negatively portrayed in the media. Sadly, such negative and unjust media content has a direct effect upon their audiences and triggers particular social responses in terms of behaviour and attitudes towards social housing tenants.
We are seen as the ‘other’ and judged by our postcodes! I have travelled proudly alongside my social housing Landlord, Nottingham City Homes, on their journey for over four years now, and although this journey has been a positive one, I’m sad to say that the journey for social housing tenants, with regards having to deal with such adverse and unfair publicity from the press, television media, and some government officials, has been less so! We are not just ‘social housing tenants’, we are communities, sharing a sense of pride and belonging in where we all live.
The vast majority of us, from all walks of life, work immensely hard for the betterment of those communities and it is high time that we receive the fair press that we so evidently deserve! I have waited years for an excellent initiative and campaign like this to come along, and although the road ahead, is long and arduous, as unfortunately, we cannot change public perceptions overnight, I feel both excited and confident that the Benefit to Society Campaign will continue to gather momentum, and at long last, ensure that our united voice is heard!