Celebrating Housing Diversity Day
Embracing diversity and inclusion amongst our staff and our residents is something Watford Community Housing values and takes very seriously. Every day, we take steps to ensure we do not discriminate against anyone, regardless of their gender, sexuality, race, religion, or any other defining characteristic. We promote a culture of integration and acceptance and have run several events this year to encourage our staff and the general public to learn about and appreciate the differences that exist in our society.
In November last year we were a part of Watford’s Inter-faith pilgrimage, which saw staff members and their families gather with local people - of all religions and of none - to take a walking tour of some of Watford’s places of worship. The day began at the Watford and District Synagogue, where the visitors learned about the Jewish faith and traditions, before moving on to the Watford Velmurugan Temple. Here attendees were treated to refreshments and a talk on the incredible 12,000 year history of Hinduism. Next up was a chance to listen to an Azan, a ritualistic call to prayer, at Watford Central Mosque, before the penultimate stop at the Holy Rood Roman Catholic Church. This was a wonderful chance to not only learn about Catholicism, but also about the history of the building itself. The final visit was to the Sri Guru Singh Sabha Gurdwara (the Sikh temple) to learn about Sikh hymns and scripture, as well as to enjoy a meal which is regularly served to all visitors, regardless of religion, gender, economic status or ethnicity.
In February we recognised and promoted the Chinese ‘Year of the dog’, and informed our staff of the Chinese New Year’s celebrations taking place in Watford. We made use of our internal intranet to educate on what the Chinese New Year represents and how it is celebrated, in order to give our staff an insight into the lives and culture of some of our residents.
February also saw the start of LBGT history month, which celebrates homosexuality, bisexuality and transgender people. This was a great opportunity to highlight the fact that though the United Kingdom is mostly a progressive country that allows people the freedom to identify and express themselves, that there are still countries across the world where homosexuality is punished. An internal campaign was used to illustrate to Watford Community Housing staff just how prevalent the persecution of LGBT people still is in many countries. All staff were also given the opportunity to wear a Pride badge to show their support for the LGBT community and the issues they still face.
We will be running a number of other events and campaigns to celebrate diversity and inclusion throughout the year – both internal and external – to help our staff and residents understand the differences and difficulties people face every day. March 17th –will see Watford Community Housing taking part in an active campaign, run alongside Sport Relief 2018, to promote an active lifestyle in order to help combat mental health issues. Our staff will be taking part in the national ‘Billion Steps Challenge’, which tasks participants with achieving one billions steps between them every day from 17th to 23rd March. Internally, we have set up our own Watford Community Housing leaderboard to encourage some friendly competition between staff members and to help contribute towards the one billion steps target. Later in the year we will also run activities and awareness groups during Mental Health week in May.
We will also be running a campaign to draw attention to Single Parents' Day, which takes place on 21st March and celebrates all those people nationwide who have to face the everyday challenges of bringing up children on their own, often without the support of friends or other family members. Watford Community Housing staff will be given gingerbread biscuits on the day, which will help highlight the vital work done by the charitable organisation Gingerbread, who have been helping provide information, advice and support to single parents since 1918!
All of these campaigns and initiatives are an integral part of Watford Community Housing’s mission statement, to create diverse communities that are at the heart of everything we do and accept and celebrate each other’s differences just as much as the things they have in common. Only through education and inclusion we can we truly create ‘Better homes, friendlier communities… together!’