Building a more inclusive CLT movement
Last year, we commissioned The Institute of Community Studies to help us deepen our understanding of equity, diversity and inclusion and highlight how the CLT movement can do more when it comes to creating social justice.
CLTs are making a difference up and down the country. Driven by the needs of their communities, CLTs are led by and involve local people, building social capital and cohesion as well as homes and other assets.
But, to be truly representative of the communities they are serving and actively inclusive will make them an even stronger force for good.
The research reveals different views within the movement as to what inclusion and diversity mean and their importance. Likewise, proactive approaches to achieving or protecting inclusion and diversity range widely too. There is a clear need to build the rationale for equity, diversity and inclusion, and CLTN is well-placed to support CLTs to do so meaningfully.
Key headlines from the research
- Knowledge is power – greater awareness of CLTs and how to run one is vital
Running a successful CLT requires a level of knowledge and expertise that is rare, and this is a barrier to including many voices. People need the awareness that CLTs exist, and then the knowledge, skills and confidence to start one, or get involved; negotiate with authorities, secure funding and work with a range of technical professions.
- Trust needs to be rebuilt between communities, decision-makers and local service providers for more CLTs to get started.
Personal experiences of social injustice and discrimination can prevent groups and communities from getting involved in CLT projects where relationships with decision-making organisations are a major part of the process.
- Existing CLTs can increase their effectiveness further still by diversifying their board of trustees
Many boards are started by like-minded people with the best of intentions, but this can put off others who don’t feel they fit in, it can also limit a CLT and its impact. It risks turning CLTs from a way of building power across a community into an ‘us and them’ situation, where a benevolent CLT board provides for other people. Diverse voices improve the quality and objectivity of decisions, bring more ideas, innovation and importantly, provide a better understanding of the community a CLT operates in.
To be able to make a real difference and reduce the barriers to diversity and inclusion that exist, The Young Foundation recommended three key areas:
- Conduct a diversity audit
A true and unbiased review of the make-up of the CLT sector can help the sector to better understand its demographics and culture. This overview will then provide a benchmark and drive future actions
- Provide more support to CLTs seeking to improve diversity and inclusion
During the peer research lack of funding and capacity were often cited for the less active approaches to diversity and inclusion. By providing resources on the subject and funding (similar to the Cohesive Communities Fund) where possible, CLTN can embed diversity and inclusion as a core element for any CLT.
- Target support for diverse groups
This programme and its outputs have shown that for many diverse groups and communities, the CLT approach is an unknown entity. More can be done to address this lack of knowledge and highlight the benefits of CLTs and how they can be used to overcome some of the structural barriers that exist and meet their housing needs.
What we’ve done and what we’re planning to do
This research was work was funded through the Cohesive Communities programme. The CLTN team is now working to put the recommendations into action and has plans to engage with professionals, activists and other relevant voices to improve its services and build a new long-term programme that’s focused on building social justice.
Through the Cohesive Communities programme, we have also:
- Set up a CLT ambassador programme to amplify the different voices and experiences that currently exist and inspire more people to get involved.
- Co-funded new research on black-led community led housing which is being coordinated by Leeds Community Homes in partnership with Claude Hendrickson (Leeds Community Homes), Henri Baptiste (Pathway Housing Solutions), Yael Arbell (Sheffield Hallum University) and Tom Moore (University of Liverpool). An update on this project is coming soon.
- Board-level commitment to follow through on the recommendations set out in the Institute for Community Studies’ report and to discuss the findings that come out through the black-led CLH research.
- Submitted an application to UK Research and Innovation, in 2022, to establish a research network for CLTs. Unfortunately, this was not successful, but we hope to find other ways to do this work.