The Grenfell tragedy in June 2017 exposed the very worst of what could happen when residents are ignored and sidelined in their homes. In August 2018, after engagement and consultation with social housing residents across the country, the government updated its Green Paper A new deal for social housing to 'rebalance the relationship between residents and landlords’. This was followed by the Charter for Social Housing Residents: Social Housing White Paper in 2020, a policy intended to ‘deliver a better deal for social housing residents’, with the implementation of the legislative changes due to begin in 2023/24.
Where do RECLAIM and Youth Scrutiny Panel come in? One key measure from the Charter for Social Housing Residents was to ‘empower residents to support them in engaging with and holding landlords to account’. RECLAIM was approached by Bolton at Home, a housing provider in Greater Manchester, to create the ‘Youth Scrutiny Panel’ pilot, a programme for young residents to shape their policies and services, holding them and their decisions to account. Although they created some opportunities for residents to engage with them, the housing provider recognised that there was a gap in their provision for their younger residents...The Scrutiny Panel provided a space for young working-class people to voice their concerns and actively participate in addressing the challenges they and their communities were experiencing within the housing provider. Supporting Young People to Lead Change
Our youth programmes are designed to power young working-class people to create change today and lead the country tomorrow. To do this effectively, our programmes are supported by youth workers who support the pastoral care and well-being of our young people providing a safe and supportive environment that positively impacts their participation in sessions and trips. The sessions themselves are designed to develop critical thinking, negotiation, leadership and other core skills through our RECLAIM Skills Framework.
Youth Scrutiny Panel - A day on the road
One of the first activities the group took part in was a ‘day on the road’, where they gained insights into the social housing customer offer and were introduced to the different teams at Bolton at Home. They explored some of the changes that needed to be made to ensure the different departments were accessible to working-class young people and their families.
After learning more about the organisation, the Scrutiny Panel conducted investigations into Bolton at Home’s Repairs Policy and Anti-social Behaviour Policy. The Panel came up with some specific changes they wanted to see in the policies themselves and a further list of areas they wanted the organisation to address. After assessing the Anti-social Behaviour policy, they fed back on their likes and dislikes, stating “We wouldn’t feel good if we got this at sign-up. We would feel like there were rules we had to follow and not welcome.” This led Bolton at Home to release a Good Neighbours Policy and leaflet to promote community togetherness and strengthen communities.
Other areas the group want to focus on in the future include producing policies for residents who have English as an additional language and making the policy format more accessible, creating ways of communicating the policies to reach their young working-class audience and building a community calendar of religious and celebration days.
What's next With a couple more months left of the project, the panel are wrapping up their recommendations for Bolton at Home’s policies. They will then attend Tpas’ National Tenant Scrutiny Conference in October to deliver a session on what they’ve achieved so far and how associations can better engage and support young people.
The challenges facing working-class young people are immense, from education and employment to mental health, climate change and broader social justice issues. We need organisations and policymakers to involve young people in designing solutions for the challenges they’re facing in a way that not only tackles immediate needs but also builds their collective capacities to be able to develop effective strategies for meaningful change in the future.
If you’re interested in finding out more about our Scrutiny Panel or how we can support you in setting up your own, contact Issy at firstname.lastname@example.org