Influence is one of the key functions of the Centre: to provide a platform to champion the importance and impact of community investment across the UK. From discussions we’ve already had in developing the Centre, we know this needs to happen within organisations, and the housing sector, as well as externally.
Consequently, there are two streams to this influencing work: internal, and external.
The internal influencing work will involve it providing the tools and means to ensure Boards, Executive Teams and other colleagues within social housing understand and value the work of community investment. It’s about raising the profile of the work that community investment professionals do, building pride in the impact that housing associations deliver in communities.
It’s also providing proven business cases for community investment, that explain how investing in community-based activities drives outcomes and value for money across housing associations.
We believe community investment must become a core part of how housing associations deliver their social purpose: it should be at the core of their business. Simultaneously, it needs a clear business case and evidence that is linked to the core delivery of housing services. Over time, we will establish and disseminate evidence about how, for example, community investment mitigates the risk of rent arrears, and ensures homes are developed and managed in sustainable communities.
The external influencing work of the Centre will ensure housing associations are viewed not just for providing affordable homes, but also for their investment in, and work with communities. All too often, social housing is viewed through a narrow lens. The contribution housing associations make to a whole range of national and local public policy objectives is forgotten. We want housing associations to be positively perceived because of their social purpose, and their work with local people across the UK.
In our external influencing work, we will link and cooperate with partners in other sectors, including health, criminal justice, technology, sports, social care and the private sector.
Our aim is put community investment on the map as a positive force for change.