A proactive approach to increasing diversity, equality and inclusion

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. 

Case study

Other examples can be found by the following categories.

“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. 

For example:

  • 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.

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

“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.

“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

International examples of specialised housing service for older LGBT people

Information about unconscious bias:

Browse the Housing LIN’s dedicated resource page for more on housing in later life and diversity.