Case Study - LGB Community Engagement

Progressive employers recognise that being forward-thinking on lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) equality is not only crucial in the labour market – LGB people are also consumers and service users, representing a market estimated to be worth £70–81 billion per year in Britain alone. For many LGB people – and the wider population – an organisation’s attitude towards the LGB community is just as important as its behaviour as an employer.

Alongside having regular drop-in sessions and running a focus group for LGB&T residents in the borough, Tower Hamlets Homes conducts a monthly survey on tenant satisfaction rates and cross-references the information they gather against sexual orientation. This information is then used to shape service delivery to LGB residents – whether it be around fairness in the delivery of services or being kept abreast of relevant issues. This has resulted in higher satisfaction rates amongst lesbian, gay and bisexual residents when compared to straight residents in the borough.

Direct engagement with residents has also led to a number of tailored initiatives. Identifying that LGB residents are two and a half times more likely than straight residents to have a mental health disability, THH have actively engaged with community mental health groups in the borough and kept them informed of the services LGB residents in Tower Hamlets are likely to require.

THH also works closely with Rainbow Hamlets, an LGBT community organisation in the borough, to combat homophobic hate crime. Tower Hamlets Homes has recently conducted a mystery shopping exercise to test the efficacy of their hate crime reporting routes. Test enquiries were directed to their Housing Service Centre, three Neighbourhood Housing Offices and five other housing organisations to report alleged homophobic verbal abuse from neighbours. This then allowed them to assess whether their service standards, customer care, staff knowledge and skills were up to scratch. Actions resulting from this exercise included rolling out training for relevant Anti-Social Behaviour partners and contractors specific to providing victim-centered support for residents who experience homophobic hate crime.