The 2010 Equalities Act (opens new window) describes a wide range of characteristics that are protected by the law. Providers and commissioners of housing, health and social care are covered by the Public Sector Equality Duty.
One of the key requirements of the Duty is to advance equality of opportunity between people who share a protected characteristic and people who do not share it. In practice this means:
- Remove or minimise disadvantages suffered by persons who share a relevant protected characteristic that are connected to that characteristic.
- Take steps to meet the needs of persons who share a relevant protected characteristic that are different from the needs of persons who do not share it.
- Encourage persons who share a relevant protected characteristic to participate in public life or in any other activity in which participation by such persons is disproportionately low.
- Promote understanding and good relations and tackle prejudice between people who share a relevant protected characteristic and persons who do not.
The CollaborAGE approach seeks to proactively address issues of marginalisation through inclusive practice. By encouraging collaboration, mutual support and co-production CollaborAGE can confront inequality. In order to do this it is important for everyone involved to understand the nature and scale of structural disadvantage including their own unconscious biases.
Important elements of inclusive policy and practice include:
- Accepting that past and current policies and practice will have created inequality within communities.
- Understanding how unconscious bias plays a part in perpetuating inequality
- Understanding who in the community has been disadvantaged.
- Ensuring a voice for everyone and not making assumptions about needs and preferences based on individual or group characteristics.
The advancement of equality of opportunity can be seen in two parallel types of initiative:
- The development of services and models of mutual support that are created by and provide mutual support to people from particular groups.
Efforts to improve understanding and change policy and practice across society so that universal services and systems are inclusive.
- Ambition For Ageing: A Toolkit for Inclusion in Practice (opens new window)
Across Manchester taking an equalities approach means placing people and communities who are usually on the margins at the centre when designing and developing projects. Thisvtoolkit shows 24 different approaches to how local programmes have been practically designed for inclusion.
Other examples can be found by the following categories.
- Ageing in Place for Minority Ethnic communities: The importance of social infrastructure (opens new window)
This important report identifies the particular importance in place-making for BAME people of community groups, specialist retailers, religious venues, parks and transport links
- BMENational (opens new window)
BME national is a collective of over 45 housing associations working to create successful, vibrant integrated communities. Members of the network provide 65,000 homes as well as culturally specific services to individuals and communities.
- Irish communities (opens new window)
Innisfree Housing Association was established in 1985 to meet the housing need of these communities in the boroughs of Brent, Camden and Haringey.
“I am happy myself because I am independent. I do my own things, I have friends but I don’t depend on them. I’m a proud black woman – that is one thing I know.”Linda, older black woman and community activist
Centres for Independent Living
Whilst not housing specific, Centres for Independent Living can be found in many local communities. They offer a disabled peoples’ led approach to support which is guided by principles of independent living and choice and control.
- Standing together (opens new window)
Standing together is a peer support approach to addressing loneliness and poor mental health within later-life housing schemes which was developed by the Mental Health Foundation working with people in later life and housing organisations.
“They welcomed us to their coffee morning and after two slices of lemon drizzle and many stories about the finer pie and mash shops about the area – many of which have now closed down, we were told we could come again.”Candy Worf, Group Facilitator, Standing Together Project
- Men’s Sheds (opens new window)
The Men’s Sheds movement developed to reduce loneliness and isolation among men. Some of the projects are for particular groups and others are open to all. There is an association which local projects can join for support in developing and maintaining projects. Currently there are 598 open Men’s Sheds in the UK.
Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Friends programme is the biggest ever initiative to change people’s perceptions of dementia. It aims to transform the way the nation thinks, acts and talks about the condition, including wider citizen engagement in dementia-friendly communities.
- Housing LIN Dementia Friendly Communities pages
- Dementia Engagement and Empowerment Project (DEEP) (opens new window)
The Dementia Engagement and Empowerment Project (DEEP) in an independent network of around 100 groups of people with dementia in the UK with diverse membership and a rights based approach to changing attitudes, services and policies.
Research on older LGBT people shows they fear using mainstream services, including housing, due to discrimination and unconscious bias in the way services are provided.
“I do my best to avoid public services as I fear a wall of hate.”Philip, older gay man
- JRF: Assessing current and future housing and support options for older LGB people (opens new window)
- Roger’s story (opens new window)
Roger's story is a powerful video about his experience of health and social care when his partners needed support. He makes the case for helping services to learn to be more inclusive.
“We were honoured and respected and accepted for who we were to each other.”Roger, older gay man
There is an active debate in the LGBT community about the relative merits of specialist and integrated housing.
- Building a sense of community: Including older LGBT in the way we develop and deliver housing with care (opens new window)
“At the age of 89, my memory is seriously affected and I’m terrible with names, I tell people that I am the luckiest ‘old gay man’ of my age: I’m in a wonderful long-term relationship with my partner who is many years younger than me. I’ve told him if he wants to put me into a home it’s got to be one that has a lot of other old gay men in it.”George Montague, older gay man
- LGBT Foundation, based in Manchester UK (opens new window)
The LGBT Foundation, based in Manchester UK, is planning to develop Manchester’s first LGBT-Affirmative Extra Care Scheme. The Foundation has also been researching how housing options for LGBT people 55+ can be improved.
- London Older Lesbian Cohousing group (opens new window)
The London Older Lesbian Cohousing group is planning to develop a mixed tenure cohousing project in north-east London for lesbians who are 55+.
International examples of specialised housing service for older LGBT people
- 26th December Foundation (opens new window)
In Madrid, the 26th December Foundation provides a range of housing for LGBT people in later life:
- SAGE, Harlem (opens new window)
In Harlem New York Sage provides support to maintain LGBT older people within their community:
- Support and information about housing for LGBTQI people (opens new window)
- https://www.openingdoorslondon.org.uk/ (opens new window)