Ground-breaking MRI Software research also shows that 40% of the respondents feel they live in a safe neighbourhood but over a third do not.
UK social housing residents want to feel a greater sense of community and improved safety, according to the first report from the Resident Voice Index, released by MRI Software, a global leader in real estate technology solutions. The research revealed that close to half (46%) of the social housing residents surveyed want to feel a part of their neighbourhood and nearly a third (31%) do in fact feel a sense of belonging – yet over a third (37%) do not. The research also revealed that while 40% of respondents feel safe in their neighbourhood, just over a third (34%) don’t feel the same sense of safety in their community.
Based on a nationwide survey of nearly 4,000 residents and designed in collaboration with social housing residents and providers, the research takes a new approach to understanding the attitudes, needs and priorities of people living in these communities. The ongoing research project also includes comprehensive sentiment analysis, looking at what’s behind the survey responses. For instance, with respect to neighbourhood safety, sentiment analysis revealed that the most common topics to emerge on improving residents’ feelings of safety were increasing police presence and engagement, addressing drugs, and providing better lighting and CCTV – areas in which many social housing providers are already working with local authorities.
“Not only are we capturing the mood of residents across the UK, but we can develop a deeper understanding of the factors and trends behind the results – and they in turn can be used to elevate service provision across the sector,” said James Massey, Strategy Director of MRI Social Housing. “In this first Index report, analysis revealed that targeted community interventions could increase the sense of belonging within neighbourhoods from one third to over one half amongst social housing residents. Above all this is a great tool to help residents ensure their voice is heard and that is at the core of our approach.”
The research also looked at the amenities that social housing residents prioritise and the ones that are most available to them. The most important amenities for respondents related to health and wellbeing. Results showed that currently 90% live within 15 minutes of a GP surgery and 89% within 15 minutes of green spaces, indicating that they are generally well provisioned.
Other key findings and insights from the survey and sentiment analysis:
- Those who feel safe are four times more likely to feel they belong to their community. Conversely, amongst those who don’t feel safe, only 12% feel that they belong.
- 84% of survey respondents don’t believe their housing provider improves their sense of community.
- Younger respondents generally held more negative views of their communities, with neighbourhoods appearing to be better suited to older generations.
- Policy makers, planners and providers can develop and implement strategies that foster a sense of community amongst residents. This, in conjunction with practical measures on the streets around lighting, CCTV and crime could significantly improve feelings of safety.
- There is an opportunity for providers to open greater lines of communication, customised to their residents, who we found, often did not know what their provider did in the community.
- Investment and planning for the communities of the future may benefit from more consultation and involvement from the young.