Four housing associations make landmark human rights commitment

Four housing associations make landmark human rights commitment

Housing minister Paul McLennan (front row, centre) with the Castlemilk associations during his visit

Four housing providers in Castlemilk have said human rights are a crucial part of the work they deliver for tenants as they prepare to offer input to the Scottish Government’s Human Rights Bill.

The quartet of housing associations – Ardenglen, Cassiltoun, Craigdale and North View – have been working for months on a trail-blazing declaration on human rights in their communities and have now produced a handbook outlining their commitment.

The move coincided with International Human Rights Day which is marked every December 10.

Traditionally, human rights are seen as a national or international issue attracting much attention on the global stage. But in this new more local commitment, the four housing associations said it is appropriate to the delivery of good housing and the other services they provide to tenants and the wider community.

The colourful 40-page easy-to-read handbook – available to all tenants and others - enshrines their commitment to human rights and explains in a detailed way how it is relevant to housing.

It was unveiled for the first time to the Scottish Government’s housing minister Paul McLennan MSP on a visit to Castlemilk where he met staff and others closely involved with the housing associations.

The four want to ensure that issues faced by people in Castlemilk inform the detail of the Bill so in addition to the handbook they have set what’s known as a ‘Housing and Human Rights Lived Experience Group’ which will offer and submit reports to ministers and will report locally on issues of major significance.

The Scottish Government’s consultation on a Human Rights Bill for Scotland closed in October and currently over 400 responses are being analysed.

The Bill will incorporate a range of economic, social, civil, political, environmental and cultural rights into Scots law.

Four housing associations make landmark human rights commitment

Some of the eye-catching features of the handbook match human rights with service delivery including:

  • Keeping tenants safe through such things as routine annual gas safety checks, installation of integrated fire alarms and carbon monoxide detectors and preventing mould
  • Providing well-maintained homes to avoid aggravation of health conditions along with accessible properties for people with impairments
  • People should live in communities in security, peace and dignity
  • There should be no discrimination and staff must communicate with tenants in an ‘inclusive way’

A spokesperson for the housing associations said: “For the first time, the four housing associations which exclusively have housing stock in Castlemik have come together in a definitive commitment to shine the spotlight on this important issue. As the world marks the 75th Anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights at the United Nations, we are reminded of how respecting and protecting fundamental rights is still a work in progress and we all have a job to make a difference locally.

“Therefore the training, the handbook, listening to customers and collaborating strategically helps us to better ensure human rights and equality are front and centre in all that we do. It is a trail-blazing achievement and we are delighted with how it has been accomplished.”

During the minister’s visit, the four housing associations were also able to raise pressing issues of concern. They were joined by a fifth housing association for the meeting, Thenue Housing, which also has housing stock in Castlemilk. Top of the agenda was the effect on tenants’ wellbeing arising from the seemingly never-ending cost of living crisis and access to land to build more accessible homes.

Representatives said their welfare rights and “financial inclusion” teams were “working flat out” to alleviate hardship but that there “was no end in sight” to the difficulties caused by rising prices – particularly energy costs.

Housing minister Paul McLennan said: “Everyone deserves to live in a warm, safe and affordable home and we will continue to work together with local housing associations to help deliver more affordable homes in Scotland. It is positive to see local housing associations working together to support the needs of their tenants and communities. We are committed to delivering 110,000 affordable homes across Scotland by 2032, with 70% of those homes being for social rent.”

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