At TPAS Cymru we are always working to support and improve tenant participation across Wales. Therefore identifying new and effective ways of tenant and community engagement is a priority of ours.
At one of our training days last week (Alternative Methods to Community Engagement) a number of housing professionals came together and we discussed some of the most effective approaches and activities that can get tenants involved with their landlord.
One of the methods for participation we looked at was using creative methods and some great examples were shared. Knitters and Natters at Taff HA and the Craft Group at Wales & West HA were just a couple of the current creative activities mentioned, both being very successful and at little cost to the housing associations.
It’s great to hear about creative groups already in operation but I think there is still plenty of scope to do much more in this area. The potential these types of groups have is substantial. Not only are they fun, they are very inclusive as anyone can get involved. Creative activities have less emphasis on verbal and written skills which are a barrier to many people taking part in more formal participation activities. They can also be engaging for a variety of ages and abilities. For older people being involved in a creative group might alleviate social isolation and for younger people an opportunity to try something new for little or no cost, such as drama or music classes. Providing creative outlets for tenants and communities can also promote community cohesion.
Creative activities will also generate opportunities for many different forms of feedback and information and can be used easily for effective consultation or for exploring topics in alternative ways. For example music, art and drama can all be used as way to express opinions and thoughts, especially in young people. The creative work produced by tenants and the community can also be a refreshing change from a written report and be more engaging to a wider audience. Why not have tenants make their own video, radio play or photography project to get their voices heard in a different way?
As well as benefitting tenants and communities and creating opportunities for gathering purposeful qualitative feedback for the Landlord, using creative methods for participation can be one of the most cost effective and valuable approaches to participation. With funding increasingly tight this is an important consideration.
I would be really keen to hear about your own use of creative methods for participation and how effective or ineffective you have found them to be. If you would like any support or advice in developing or setting up a creative activity or project then please get in touch. I am also in the process of developing an in-depth training day ‘Making the most of Creative Methods for Tenant Participation’.