“As funders we know that while we have gut feelings based on anecdotes and personal experience, we’re committed to building an evidence base.” – Gary Hartin
Whether we like it or not, all of us have intuition and feelings that inform our decision-making on a daily basis. In the housing world, the stories of those in need struggling to secure somewhere they can call home are generally more moving than the latest empirical research. This said, as funders we know that while we have gut feelings based on anecdotes and personal experience, we’re committed to building an evidence base which we can use to press for for change.
The recent launch of a report, funded by us and produced by the Wales Co-operative Centre is a very good example of how evidence carries weight. In this instance, it confirmed our feelings – marrying together instinct and fact. We’re told of the positive impact on wellbeing of living in co-operative and community-led housing schemes, often by the tenants or residents themselves. This research, however, carried out standardised and statistically significant interviews and surveys, to truly build a picture of how co-operative and community-led housing can make people’s lives better.
The results aren’t surprising to those involved in this area of housing, but they’re significant if the co-operative and community-led sector is to grow at scale. For example, 19% of respondents said they felt less lonely and isolated living in co-operative or community-led homes. 16% reported better mental wellbeing and said that they felt more in control. Of note also, is the fact that 14% say they have improved skills and employability.
The research proves that many things we’d heard anecdotally were correct; co-operative and community-led housing can change lives and play a vital role in creating a housing system fit for the future. What’s more, the launch was attended by Julie James AM, the Minister for Housing in the Welsh Assembly, who listened intently to the experiences of residents settled in these communities.
With a new Government taking office, we believe that it’s clear, powerful, empirical evidence that can change the minds of those who govern. It paves the way for a transformative approach to housing, leading to policies that make a positive difference for communities and individuals who need it most.
Gary Hartin manages the Backing Community-Led Housing Programme at the Nationwide Foundation.