This weeks guest blog comes from Gregory Hill-O`Connor, Our Voice Co-ordinator at the ALLIANCE. Greg tells us about his visit to Glasgow Housing Association and What Matters to You Day.
As a keen student of social policy, and in particular how societies look after their most vulnerable, I have always been interested in the notion of housing as the ‘wobbly pillar of the welfare state’. So when Tommy asked me to come along to visit the Glasgow Housing Association (GHA) office in Cardonald to speak to them about What Matters To You Day I had to say yes.
What Matters To You Day is about people taking a bit of time to ask the people they are working with ‘what matters to you?’. It seems like a simple, obvious question but it is a fiercely important one. This initiative has been very popular in recent years among health and social care staff. However, I was delighted to hear that GHA is the first housing association to be involved in this amazing day. And I was further delighted when I had a chance to go and visit and art group set up by residents in Cardonald. Costing a grand total of £60, this group gave me an opportunity to see the impact of people doing things that matter to them – I even got to experience the pleasure in creating a simple piece of art!
Firstly, it has been a long time since I have received such a warm welcome. Immediately people were talking to me about their art works – including some incredible watercolour sunsets (which I unashamedly plagiarised for my own pastel work) and a particularly intricate pen drawing of a ship in a bottle. These conversations were interspersed by the self depreciation of two people who were new to the group, comments that were immediately shut down by the rest of group who launched into praise for the brightly coloured patterns being completed by the two novices.
The draw to a group such as this and its impact was clear. Here was a relaxing, creative space full of mutually supportive people. All of the people there spoke of the transformative impact of the group – many pointing towards how relaxing and calming it is. The group is now working on a What Matters to You tree that will allow other residents to share the things that make them happy. Hopefully this will spawn many more groups such as this that offer something simple, that people want and that matter to people.
Housing is such an important part of peoples’ lives as it is the bricks and mortar of housing that are literally the foundations of communities. Even more important then, for Housing Associations to always be asking ‘What Matters To You?’.