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Expert panel helps Ombudsman to raise awareness and access amongst under-represented residents

8 March 2024

The Housing Ombudsman’s Accessibility and Inclusion Expert Group has concluded and has helped to improve accessibility to the Ombudsman.

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The Accessibility and Inclusion Expert Group has drawn to a close its advisory work with the Ombudsman. Its work has helped the Ombudsman to improve our accessibility and has shown us how we can better reach out to under-represented groups of residents.

The Expert Group was made up of personnel and organisations who had experience of removing barriers to their service and it ran for 24 months. The group gained insights from the Housing Ombudsman’s own Resident Panel and fed that into proposals throughout.

The group looked at:

  • awareness
  • digital exclusion
  • language, understanding especially where English is not the person’s first language
  • complex needs and multiple vulnerabilities
  • migrant status
  • need for advocacy services
  • representation across elderly and younger population
  • understanding why those with a disability, vulnerability and/or mental health issue were not accessing services and identifying the many reasons for this, including confidence, worry, energy, time

The work of the group has led to a number of positive changes for the Ombudsman, culminating in a raised profile for Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) matters including through the creation of an EDI dashboard and amendments to our reasonable adjustments policy. The group also supported improved wording and layout of our Ombudsman’s website, revised our telephone process to make it more streamlined and pick up on vulnerabilities earlier, and helped us develop a better connection with advice agencies such as Citizens Advice and Shelter.

Working alongside the group was an informative experience and they commented:

“Your work is making such a difference to the quality of many lives. Long may it continue.”

“We really appreciate the work that the Housing Ombudsman have been doing to improve access and found the meetings very helpful. I personally learnt a great deal from them.”

“Thanks again for the ongoing engagement and relationship we’ve had, I really appreciate the time and energy you’ve put into helping with the initiatives and look forward to continuing any future learning exchanges.”