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It’s been a long time coming but last week we launched our first virtual listening campaign workshop, led our residents, in partnership with Citizen’s UK.

COVID-19 put our Listening Campaign on pause earlier this year, so we are thrilled that we are able to start delivering these workshops virtually to continue resident’s involvement in our service and local issues that are important to them.

This project has two main focuses. One focus is ensuring residents are given a voice in influencing decisions affecting their lives at Caritas Anchor House. Over the past year, we have welcomed an increasingly diverse demographic of residents, many of whom have previously struggled to have their voices heard, and so it has been important that we respond to this need. The second key focus of the project is to empower residents to share their views on the issues that are important to them and facilitate action. This year, the chosen topic is a subject our residents are passionate about and so we will work with them to lobby local authorities and developers around the issue of affordable housing in the London borough of Newham.

In the first session, residents discussed their three biggest challenges during lockdown, things that would improve their quality of life at Caritas Anchor House and how they can support other residents during these challenging times. Our team will use this feedback to ensure we can offer all residents at Caritas Anchor House the services they need to improve their wellbeing and make positive steps towards their next chapters.

The second half of the discussion featured changes our residents would like to see to housing provision in Newham. This conversation will form part of a much larger consultation process led by the London Borough of Newham, to understand what people think of the current housing allocation policy. Participants discussed who can currently join the housing waiting list and the local authority’s proposed changes, whether someone should have lived in the borough for three years to join the list and whether priority should be given to those already in employment.

At the end of this discussion, a proposal was put forward for priority housing to be given to those living in overcrowded conditions and for the definition of ‘overcrowding’ to be reassessed. Currently overcrowding is defined by the shortage of bedrooms rather than the number of residents living in the property.

Residents were very engaged in the discussions, facilitated by Alistair from Citizens UK, and worked together to formulate proposals. The virtual workshop was also an excellent opportunity to make a start on using new tablets and smart phones to help residents keep connected in our very-virtual world, thanks to funding from the East End Community Foundation and donations from Tesco’s Mobile.

We’re looking forward to the Listening Campaign’s progress, and thank all those involved.

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