Race and Housing Conference

Forging an Anti-Racist Housing Landscape: Creating change for the South West

ACH is committed to creating a world where everyone has access to safe and affordable housing, regardless of their background or circumstances.

We were proud to partner with leading housing organisations and practitioners to tackle racism and inequity at our recent social housing conference held in Bristol.

Keep reading to learn more about our work to forge an anti-racist housing landscape in the West of England and the inspiring guest speakers we welcomed and don't forget to click hyperlinks to watch short videos from the event.

‘Why in 2023, do the majority of our boardrooms do not represent the demographics of our tenants? Why is the leadership not representative of the people that we are serving?’ - Lara Oyedele

As a refugee-led housing and support provider in the UK, ACH is dedicated to creating a world where everyone has access to safe and affordable housing, regardless of their background or circumstances. ACH recently partnered with the National Housing Federation, Black South West Network, SARI, and Bristol City Council to lead a half-day conference titled "Firming Foundations and Raising Roofs: Race, Migration and Housing in Bristol and the West of England." The conference aimed to address racism and inequities faced by people of colour, as well as minoritized and newly arrived communities in the social housing sector.

Over 90 senior housing leaders including many social housing CEOs and campaigners gathered at the RWA in Bristol to discuss the city’s role in addressing housing inequalities faced by people of colour as well as minoritized and newly arrived communities. Also, we were delighted that Bristol’s inaugural City poet performed Bristol, Bristol to open the event.

By organizing this conference, ACH created a sector-wide debate and set a new pathway to an anti-racist housing landscape in Bristol and the West of England. The event followed the publication of the Social Housing Anti-Racism Pledge (SHARP), which calls for the implementation of an anti-racist framework within social housing providers.

The event was chaired by Curo Group CEO Victor da Cunha who steered delegates through a series of in-depth discussions on key themes including housing policy positive action training, board diversity initiatives and social innovation housing solutions.

Participants were stirred by two electrifying keynote speakers Lara Oyedele President of the Chartered Institute of Housing outlining her personal story of homelessness and poverty to leading the preeminent social housing professional organisation in the UK. She reflected that “If it was part of your regulatory requirement to have a diverse board, I guarantee you boardrooms would be diverse”.

‘Why in 2023, do the majority of our boardrooms do not represent the demographics of our tenants? Why is the leadership not representative of the people that we are serving?’ - Lara Oyedele

Yvette Williams MBE founder of Justice4 Grenfell reflected on the multiple system failings behind the horrific fire at the Grenfell tower in 2017 and the ongoing enduring battle to ensure the voices of the survivors were heard and acted upon and the systemic failings in duty of care from the various  authorities that led to the senseless loss of life victims was not forgotten.

‘We've moved from a welfare to a careless state, and the more and more we put our public services into private hands where money is the ultimate object, we suffer disproportionately and in the case of Grenfell, people paid the ultimate price with their lives.’  - Yvette Williams

Panellist Alex Raikes reflected on tragic deaths of two refugees in the city over the last decade Bijan Ebrahimi and Kamil Ahmad and the role institutional racism played both in their murders and the consequential response from the authorities. Panel chair Oona Goldsworthy also reflected on the circumstances surrounding the death of Awaab Ishak just eight days after his second birthday, as a direct result of black mould in the flat he lived in. His parents were Sudanese refugees. The Panel agreed these occurrences were not isolated and  the reality is, disproportionate numbers of people from specific ethnic minority groups live in damp housing, compared with their white British counterparts. Mixed white and Black Caribbean (13%), Bangladeshi (10%), Black African (9%) and Pakistani (8%) households were all much more likely to have damp problems than white British households (3%).

During the following session focused on board diversity and training initiatives, panel Chair Museji Takolia reflected on key findings that show just over 60% of the country’s largest housing associations have all-white executive teams. The same survey found that 87.4% of associations’ board members are white, with 25 organisations reporting all-white boards. Panellist, Roger Griffith a former senior housing manager and now campaigner shared that “one in three black people who have experienced homelessness have also faced racial discrimination from a landlord, six times more than the general population of those who had struggled for shelter, a study reveals and black-led households reporting discrimination also face a risk of homelessness nearly 50% greater than that of a white-led household and showed racial inequality was “hard-wired into our housing system”.

As our CEO, Fuad Mahamed, commented

'…the government’s decision to devolve immigration policy to landlords by making it a criminal offence to let to people without leave to remain in the UK, has fuelled racist discriminatory practice There is evidence landlords avoid tenants they perceive to be ‘foreign’ and misinterpret immigration legislation when carrying out checks.' - Fuad Mahamed

The event drew together the strands that were explored throughout the day to consider how best to forge an anti-racist housing landscape for the city and beyond by aligning social housing providers to the standards outlined in the Social Housing Anti Racist Pledge (SHARP).

The event closed with an outstanding achievement award presented to Mr Guy Bailey OBE for his role in initiating the first black led social housing provider in the southwest. The award was presented by Simon Nunn of the National Housing Federation and the city mayor Marvin Rees who reflected on the overwhelming challenges faced by  Mr Bailey generation and how we are all today standing on the shoulders of giants.

The event was organised by refugee housing and integration specialist service provider ACH alongside key partners SARI, BSWN and NHF alongside the One City Homes and Communities board  and sponsored by YTKO with additional support from Brighter Places, Brunel care and Curo.

By working with their partners, ACH remains committed to tackling racism and creating a better future for everyone, regardless of their background or circumstances. Through continued conversation and collaboration, they believe that they can make a difference and create a better world for all.


Interested in finding out more about this event? 

Get in touch with us at: marketing@ach.org.uk

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