Research Project: Housing and Health

What is the project about?

Healthwatch Waltham Forest (HWWF) are investigating the impact the impact of housing on health and potential solutions to improving conditions.

Why is HWWF researching housing?

This project is part of the social determinants focus at HWWF: we’re investigating how non-medical factors influence health and wellbeing in the borough. Social determinants include where you’re born, what your household income is and whether you’ve experienced discrimination. Research shows social determinants can be more important than lifestyle choices in influencing healthcare outcomes.  This means social determinants are often considered the leading causes of health inequalities.  

For more information, click here to look at the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) explanation of social determinants and why they’re important for public health.

Housing systems are social determinants of health. Housing quality is known to have a significant effect on health and well-being and life chances. We know many people live in conditions that negatively affect their health and wellbeing. This could be because they are unhoused or under-housed or where they live is unaffordable, too small, too crowded, damp, moldy, cold or unsafe.

Housing is also closely linked to the COVID-19 pandemic. People experiencing poor housing conditions are more likely to catch and spread the virus and experience severe effects of an infection. The economic impact of COVID-19 also places some people at greater risk of financial hardship and falling behind on housing costs which could lead to more evictions.

To find out more about the role of housing in the COVID-19 pandemic, click here to read an article by the Health Foundation.

Overall, housing poverty in Waltham Forest is average when compared to other London boroughs. Housing poverty is usually measured by number of homelessness duties owed by the Local Authority, rough sleeping, temporary accommodation.  However, we know different areas and social groups in Waltham Forest experience very different qualities of housing and living spaces. Because of this, we want to highlight unheard voices on housing needs and promote community-led action on housing health. 

What are the aims of the project?

We’d like to speak to community groups and residents to:

  • Find out residents’ experiences of housing and understand how these affect health and wellbeing.
  • Identify ways to improve housing health in the borough
  • Build policy recommendations
  • Present findings

By reaching these aims, we hope the project will achieve:

  • Adoption of recommendations
  • Leading to improved housing health for Waltham Forest residents

What happens when the project finishes?

  • We’ll present recommendations and findings to health and social care commissioners and providers.
  • We will also ask the community how they think we should publish the project findings (such as in a report, short film or exhibition).

 How can I get involved?

To reach these aims, we’re hoping people take part in one or more stages:

  1. In an Informational interview as a Local Housing Expert: we’ll ask local experts to tell us what they know about local housing, how it affects health and wellbeing, and what they think providers and decision-makers can do to improve housing health for residents.
  2. In a confidential interview as a resident or carer of a resident: we’d like to speak to residents and carers of resident about (1) their experiences of housing (2), how this affects their health and wellbeing, and (3) what they think should be done to improve housing conditions. If they would like to, we will ask residents to share pictures of their living spaces and tell us what they think about the images.
  3. In a Community Forum (virtual and in person events and through an online platform): we will ask people in the borough to take part in community forums. These will take place through a digital discussion platform, online events and in person (if COVID-19 rules allow us to do this at the time).
  4. As a moderator, analyst or writer: people taking part can in moderating discussions, analyse anonymous data and write up findings. Training can be provided.

If there is another way you’d like to be involved, please let us know!

 Who is a Local Housing Expert?

We want to encourage people from a wide range of backgrounds to share their unique expertise in local housing issues! A local housing expert could be anyone who feels knowledgeable about local housing systems and the impact on health and feels confident discussing issues and solutions with others.  

You could have gained this knowledge from lived experiences, professional or voluntary experiences, training or studying or other experiences. If you have any questions about this, please fill in the enquiry form by clicking here.

What are the benefits of taking part?

Taking part in this project is voluntary and unpaid. However, by joining the project you can:

💡Use your unique experiences, knowledge, and expertise.

📚Learn new skills.

🤝🏼Connect with residents and the community sector.

🏥Influence health and social care policy.

💗Help improve health and wellbeing in your area.

 I’m interested in taking part, what should I do next?

If you’d like to take part in this study, please click here to fill in a sign-up form. 

 I have some questions about this project, how can I contact the research team?

If you would like to ask questions about this project, please click here to fill in an enquiry form.