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									                                mhs homes

                         Single Equality Scheme

“To be the leading affordable housing provider in Medway
transforming the lives of people living in the homes and
communities we serve.”

Aims and Objectives

Equality and diversity is integral to everything we do. We believe that
excellent customer service means providing a service that is accessible
and desirable to all, that the promotion of equality and diversity is
essential to our core business and that a diverse customer and staff base
requires us to value those differences. We will drive commitment to
equality and diversity in service delivery by providing accessible and
customer focused services, improved understanding of the customer
journey, build capacity to refer customers to other services and increase
methods of communication to meet our customer needs.

This Single Equality Scheme gives us the opportunity to develop a
holistic approach to equality that reflects the importance of diversity and
the nine protected characteristics. It defines how mhs homes will
achieve its goals; however it is flexible and will adjust to the changing
needs of the community, organisation and legislation.


      To make public our statement of commitment to equality and
      To become an organisation that is fair and inclusive and draws
       strength from its differences;
      To improve the quality of life of all our customers and staff;
      To mainstream equality and diversity so that it is embedded in our
       day to day work; and
      To monitor progress against our objectives.

We will ensure that all people who use, or wish to use our services and
people we employ and work with, will be treated fairly, regardless of their
background and personal circumstances, including their (or their families)
race, gender, transgender, disability, religion or belief, sexual orientation,
age, pregnancy and maternity and marriage and civil partnership.

Our Single Equality Scheme sets out how we will work with customers,
staff and members of the community to review all our services and
ensure they do not create barriers to people who wish to access them.

About mhs homes

We are a leading manager and provider of affordable accommodation in
the Medway area of Kent. We own and manage c8,000 properties which
are a mixture of flats, maisonettes, studio apartments, houses and
bungalows including retirement housing and foyers for young people.

mhs homes has been established since 1990 when the entire stock of
the Rochester Upon Medway City Council was purchased following a
successful ballot of all tenants. We are an Industrial and Provident
Society, which means we are a non-profit making organisation.

Our organisation is run by a Board made up of executive and non-
executive directors, who offer considerable relevant experience. The
Board also includes two tenant nominees and one staff nominee. The
day-to-day management is undertaken by professional staff.

About our customers

mhs homes provides quality homes and services for over 10,500 tenants
and leaseholders and has an active new development programme.

In 2008-09 we rented our homes to a diverse range of people.

     Around 55% of our tenants are women - and over half of these are
      heads of household*
     27% of our tenants are families with children under 16†
     23% of our tenants are over 65*
     4.8% our tenants are from a black or minority ethnic (BME)
     23% of our named tenants have a long-standing illness, disability or
     15% of our tenants live on a net income of under £100 per week†

(figures taken from our Open Housing Database* and 2009 Status

About where we work - The Medway Community

The population of Medway is projected to increase by 11.2% between
2004 and 2029; a total of 28,100 people. River and Strood Rural are both
areas that are marked for significant development: the population of
River ward is projected to almost triple in size between 2001 and 2026
and the population of Rural Strood is likely to almost double in size.
Medway is within the most deprived 43% of local authorities nationally.
There is extreme deprivation in Chatham Central, Cuxton and Halling,
Gillingham North and South, Hempstead and Wigmore.

In 2008 just over 21,000 people in Medway claimed a key benefit. This
represents approximately 13% of the working age population. This is
higher than the rate in Kent (11.8%) and the South East (9.7%) but
lower than the rate in Great Britain (14.1%).
According to the Medway Housing Needs Survey 2006, the 30-44 age
group numbers are predicted to fall. Growth in the Medway population is
concentrated in the older age groups, with the 45 – 64 age group
(+7,000) and the 65+ age group (+22,400) showing the biggest
increases. The retired population will increase by 68.5% by 2029. There is
an inextricable link between ageing and disability and 54% of the Medway
Community with a disability are over the age of 60.

Households in Medway with one or more person with a limiting long-term
illness is 30.95%. Of these households, 25.75% have no dependent
children and no adults in employment and the other 5.01% have
dependent children but the adults are also unemployed.

The gender split in Medway reflects that of the UK with 50.7% of the
population being female and 49.3% being male.

Migration within the housing market has an impact on population balance.
34.7% (7,661) of households who had moved in the last 3 years were
from another District. 43.2% (7,269) of existing households who had
plans to move in the next 3 years are planning to move out of Medway. In
addition 1,253 families are planning to leave Medway, 68% of which are
leaving for employment reasons.

The key features of population change impacting on the Medway
Community housing market are:
   younger and economically active households coming to Medway
    from other Districts;
   an ageing population with increasing care and support needs.

In terms of ethnicity, the Medway’s population is 92% White and 8%
Black Asian and minority ethnic groups (BAME). According to the Office
for National Statistics November 2004 these BAME groups include Black
African, Black Caribbean, Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, and Chinese.

However, the National Statistics data does not reflect the growing migrant
worker communities which have moved into Medway, or the Gypsy and
Traveller community.

Christianity is the largest practised religion in Medway. As the population
and diversity of Medway grows, the variety of faiths practised and the
number of people practising these faiths is likely to increase. The high
number of people stating they practised no religion reflects the national
trend in the decline of religious belief.
The following table shows the number of people practising each religion,
according to the Office for National Statistics November 2004.

Religion          Number of People        Proportion of the population
Buddhism          538                     0.22%
Christianity      179,545                 71.97%
Hinduism          1,687                   0.68%
Islam             2,609                   1.05%
Judaism           201                     0.08%
Sikhism           3,038                   1.22%
Other religions   850                     0.34%
Religion not stated     19,367            7.76%
No religion       41,653                  16.70%

(Information taken from the Medway Housing Needs Survey Final Report
2006, Medway 2001 census and Office for National Statistics 2004)

mhs homes Single Equality Scheme – An explanation

mhs homes has a specific duty to develop and publish equality schemes
relating to the Equality Duty 2006. They are:

      Disability
      Gender
      Race

The new Equality Act also covers discrimination on grounds of:

      Faith (Religion or Belief)
      Age
      Sexual Orientation
      Transgender (often included in Gender Equality Duty)
      Marriage and civil partnership
      Pregnancy and maternity

The Act will ensure a single approach to discrimination against people
within these categories, referred to as protected characteristics.

The purpose of our Single Equality Scheme is to set out how we intend
to deliver fair, transparent and inclusive services within the wider context
of human rights and equalities legislation. We aim to:

      find out what barriers are faced when accessing our services
      find out what the needs of our customers and employees are and
       which of these are greatest;
      communicate our responsibilities as an independent landlord and
       provider of affordable accommodation in relation to E & D, this will
       involve: board members, managers, employees, our partners in
       the public, voluntary and private sectors and our customers;
     explain how we will promote equality when delivering our services;
     demonstrate how each of the duties are linked;
     provide information about our involvement, assessments and
      training arrangements;
     work in partnership with other organisations to promote social and
      community cohesion through valuing diversity and preventing
      ignorance and prejudice in the wider community;
     demonstrate what has changed as a result of our Scheme;
     demonstrate how we have involved customers who represent these
      groups; and
     monitor what we are doing and report annually.

Our Single Equality Scheme seeks to present a co-ordinated and
structured approach to promoting equality of opportunity across all
equality strands. The Scheme is to be seen as a ‘living’ document and will
operate for a three-year period and reviewed thereafter, as specifically
required under a number of the duties.

In developing this Single Equality Scheme we gathered evidence from
various consultation exercises and also incorporated actions from
feedback gathered as a result of tenant meetings.

To ensure this scheme is embedded in every business area, policy,
process and procedure, focus groups have been held with our employees.

In order to obtain the views of service users and members of the public to
this scheme, we will publish a draft on our website. This document is also
available in alternative formats on request. Feedback will also be sought
through the mhs homes customers.

mhs homes will feedback the outcomes of the consultations to all
stakeholders involved in the consultation process and highlight the
changes made as a result of consulting.

Leadership and accountabilities


mhs homes believes that strong leadership is essential in all areas of
work and this should be demonstrated to staff and customers through
decision, strategy and policy. We will:

     work to ensure our Board is representative of the local community;
     promote Board membership opportunities as widely as possible
      especially to our customers;
     appoint the Chair of the Board as Champion for Equality and
     provide regular, accurate and clear information to the Board on our
      performance in equality and diversity; and
     address equality and diversity as part of the induction and training
      of new Board members.

Corporate Objectives

mhs homes aims to achieve excellence in all its activities and an
absolute commitment to equality and diversity is key to this. The
development of the Single Equality Scheme will enable mhs homes:

     to consult with our staff, Board members, customers and
      stakeholders in the promotion and delivery of equality and diversity
      issues within our core business;
     to be committed to providing high quality services that meet our
      customers’ needs;
     to ensure we have identified a full profile of our customers;
     to take positive action to address existing disadvantage and
      encourage a more inclusive society;
     to tackle discrimination, harassment and victimisation;
     to set and meet equality targets and objectives for all relevant
      service areas as set in our annual Service Improvement Plan;
     to collect statistical information about our customers to help us
      develop and provide services that meet their needs;
     to use ‘vulnerability flags’ on our internal systems to help identify
      vulnerable people to ensure their needs are known across all service
      areas and are taken into account when delivering services;
     to safe guard children and vulnerable adults;
     to make sure all the information we produce is written in plain
      English and is available in other formats, including large print, audio
      tape, Braille and others languages, on request;
     to offer language and interpretation facilities for those whose first
      language is not English;
     to explore employing staff with other community languages to
      support our customers;
     to assess the impact of existing and proposed policies, strategies
      and projects on all diversity strands; and
     monitoring how well services are delivered.

Legislation and what it means to mhs homes

Disability Equality Duty
The Disability Discrimination (Amendment) Act (DDA) 2005 and the new
Disability Equality Duty which came into effect in December 2006 gives
mhs homes what are known as ‘general’ and ‘specific’ duties to promote
disability equality. Disability equality is about making things fairer for
people with disabilities.

We are required to meet the general duties under the Act. Producing a
Disability Equality Scheme is one of the ‘specific duties’ of the new DDA

A Disability Equality Scheme sets out our plans for making equality real
for people with disabilities and promoting disability equality for customers
and employees of mhs homes.

What it means for mhs homes
Disability Discrimination Act (Amended) 2005 and Equality Act 2006

The new general duty means that we must, in carrying out our functions,
have due regard to:

      promoting equality of opportunity between people with disabilities
       and others;
      eliminating discrimination which is unlawful under the Act;
      eliminating harassment of people with disabilities that is related to
       their disabilities;
      promoting positive attitudes towards people with disabilities in
       public life; and
      taking steps to take account of disabled people’s disabilities even
       where this involves treating them more favourably than other

The general duty builds upon the Disability Discrimination Act 1995
including the duty to make reasonable adjustments to make sure people
with disabilities can access employment, goods, facilities, services,
functions and premises.

Disability specific duties
As part of our Disability Equality Scheme, commitment to equality and
diversity and providing equality of opportunity, mhs homes will:

      produce a disability equality scheme (included within this Single
       Equality Scheme);
      carry out impact assessments of relevant policies and functions;
      collect and study evidence and identify actions and address gaps in
       achieving disability equality, in relation to the recruitment, retention
       and development of disabled employees, and the extent to which
       our services and functions meet the needs of disabled people;
      involve disabled people in our equality scheme and the review of
       policies and impact assessments;
     ensure our premises and sheltered housing schemes are fully
      accessible for customers with physical and sensory disabilities;
     ensure we have identified a full profile of our customers and their
     work to ensure our Board is representative of the local community
      and that meetings and documents are accessible to all;
     set and meet equality targets and objectives for all relevant service
      areas as set in our annual Service Plan;
     train our staff on disability equality issues and our Equality Scheme;
     work with partners and stakeholders to deliver disability equality.

The duty to promote disability equality covers everyone who is protected
by the DDA 1995, including people who have:

     learning difficulties;
     mental health conditions;
     mobility impairments;
     visual impairments;
     hidden impairments;
     long term debilitating illness as defined within the act; and
     those who are deaf or hard of hearing.

Race Equality Scheme
The Race Relations Amendment Act 2000 amended Section 71 (1) of the
1976 Race Relations Act to place on public bodies a general statutory duty
to, in carrying out our functions, have due regard to:

     promoting equality of opportunity;
     eliminating racial discrimination which is unlawful under the Act;
     promoting good relations between people from different racial

Discrimination became unlawful on racial grounds, which means any of
the following grounds:

     Race: for example Jewish, Arab, Sikh
     Colour: for example black, white
     Nationality: for example a citizen of the UK, Germany, France
     Ethnic origin: for example Romany Gypsy
     National origin: for example English, Scottish, Welsh. A citizen of
      another country, such as Australia who becomes a UK citizen is
      Australian by National Origin.

What it means for mhs homes
Race equality specific duties
The general duty is supported by specific duties, which came into effect in
December 2001. Under these duties, mhs homes are required to publish
a Race Equality Scheme (now within this Single Equality Scheme).

As part of our Race Equality Scheme, commitment to equality and
diversity and providing equality of opportunity, mhs homes will:

     ensure that the public have access to the information and services
      we provide;
     offer training to staff in connection with the duties;
     consult with stakeholders and work with them to identify race
      equality objectives;
     assess the impact of current and proposed policies and practices on
      race equality;
     implement the actions set out in the Race Equality Scheme; and
     report on progress annually.

Race equality employment duty
mhs homes will continue to monitor its workforce and publish a report
on its profile. We routinely monitor the following by racial and ethnic

     job applications, including those short listed and appointed;
     staff in post;
     Board member recruitment;
     all applications for internal promotion;
     the job evaluation process;
     the number of disciplinary and grievance hearings;
     the reason why staff leave; and
     the taking up of formal training opportunities by staff.

Gender equality duty

The Sex Discrimination Act 1975 and the Equality Act 2006 gives mhs
homes ‘general’ and ‘specific’ duties to promote equality of opportunities
for men and women.

We are required to meet the general duties under the Act. Producing a
Gender Equality Scheme is one of the ‘specific duties.’

The new general duty which amends the above Act, means that we must,
in carrying out our functions have due regard to:

     promoting equality of opportunity between men and women;
     eliminating unlawful discrimination; and
     prohibits discrimination in relation to employment, vocational
      training, housing and provision of goods, services and facilities.
A Gender Equality Scheme (now within this Single Equality Scheme)
sets out our plans for making equality happen for men and women, who
are customers and employees for mhs homes.

Understanding Transgender

Gender Recognition Action 2004

This Act created a way for transgender people to gain legal recognition for
their acquired gender and get a new birth certificate. The Act also
includes measures to protect people’s privacy.

Sex Discrimination (Gender Reassignment) Regulations 1999 which
amended the Sex Discrimination Act 1975 was set to remove
discrimination at work on grounds of gender reassignment. The term
‘transgender’ is often used as a general term for different types of ‘trans’
identities, but it is also used more specifically to identify a particular
‘trans’ group. Transgender as a term is used where people describe
themselves as:

      Transsexual
      Transgender
      Transvestite

Transgender in the specific sense means people who have been given a
diagnosis of transsexual, who go through the transgender process and
who have declared an interest/are going through the process of/or have
completed the gender re-assignment process. This may involve hormone
therapy and surgery. The process is referred to as ‘gender reassignment’
or ‘transitioning.’

‘Trans’ people often feel they can’t access mainstream services. There is
a perception that other services won’t understand, or will judge, and
there is a fear that ‘Trans’ people will be considered mentally ill or will
raise their profile if they protest against harassment or other
unacceptable behaviour. Probably all transgender people will experience
some level of harassment and discrimination because of their gender

What this means for mhs homes

Gender specific duties

As part of our Gender Equality Scheme, commitment to equality and
diversity and providing equality of opportunity, mhs homes will:

      publish a Gender Equality Scheme (included within this Single
       Equality Scheme);
      develop a system which will prevent, detect and rectify instances in
       which the pay for work of equal value is not equal between men,
       women and transgender people;
      raise awareness of issues that ‘Trans’ groups might face;
      develop and maintain systems that collect information on how
       policies and practice affect gender equality in the workforce and in
       the delivery of services;
      consult with stakeholders and work with them to identify gender
       equality objectives;
      assess the impact of current and proposed policies and practices on
       gender equality;
      implement the actions set out in the Single Equality Scheme within
       three years, unless it is unreasonable or impracticable to do so; and
      report on progress annually.

Other equality strands and protected characteristics

mhs homes Single Equality Scheme is not confined to the current
statutory duties.    In addition to the race, disability, gender and
transgender equality strands, this scheme aims to apply the same
principles of the equality duties in relation to age, sexual orientation and
religion or belief, pregnancy and maternity, marriage and civil

The Equalities Bill was introduced to Parliament in April 2009. The
majority of the Bill is planned to come into force from Autumn 2010, with
some parts having phased introduction from Spring 2011 and beyond.
Our scheme will endeavour to prepare us for this legislation. However,
we recognise that there may be a requirement to review and amend our
approach as the effects of the bill become more apparent.

Sexual orientation specific duties
The Employment Equality (sexual orientation) Regulations 2003
This provides legislation to protect people against harassment and
discrimination on the ground of sexual orientation.      We respect all
employees and customers as individuals and do not discriminate against
any customer or employee on the grounds of their sexual orientation.

The Civil Partnership Act 2004 states that same sex relationships will
be legally recognised.

The Equality Act 2006 states that those who are lesbian, gay, or
bisexual cannot be victimised or discriminated against due to their sexual

Sexual Orientation Equality Scheme Targets

As part of our Sexual Orientation Equality Scheme, commitment to
equality and diversity and providing equality of opportunity, mhs homes
     publish a Sexual Orientation Equality Scheme (included within this
      Single Equality Scheme;
      share best practice with other housing associations with reference
       to the collection and use of sexual orientation data;
      communicate with local charitable organisations related to sexual
      raise awareness of issues these groups might face;
      assess the impact of current and proposed policies on sexual
       orientation equality;
      achieve the Stonewall employment accreditation;
      implement the actions set out in the Scheme, and
      report on progress annually.

Our customers and the community we serve

mhs homes will ensure customers feel comfortable and able to
communicate with us about their sexual orientation. We will utilise this
information to determine if sexual orientation is relevant in relation to the
services we deliver, so to ensure everyone has equality of opportunity.
Same-sex couples will be treated in the same way as a married couple
when accessing our services, including accessing support in domestic
violence situations.


mhs homes wants to ensure that all employees feel comfortable in
disclosing their sexual orientation without fear of discrimination. mhs
homes will work to achieve the Stonewall accreditation which will
demonstrate that we offer equality of opportunity to all employees.

Faith Equality specific duties

There are no specific duties directly relating to faith, religion or belief,
however, mhs homes recognises that there is legislation that relates to
this strand of diversity. We anticipate that Duties relating to this strand
will be developed and launched in the future. Legislation relating to this

The Racial/Religious Hatred Act 2006 states that housing
organisations can take action where political or religious extremism can
impact on another individual.

The Equality Act 2006 also states that it is unlawful to stir up hatred
due to a religious belief, likewise, discrimination or victimisation based on
a religious belief is prohibited.

The Employment Equality Regulations 2003 state that provisions
must be made for employees who have a religious belief.

Faith Equality Scheme Targets

As part of our Faith Equality Scheme, commitment to equality and
diversity and providing equality of opportunity, mhs homes will:
     publish a Faith Equality Scheme (included within this Single Equality
     work with other housing organisations to improve awareness and
      develop links with faith groups in their communities;
     enable all employees at mhs homes to access and use information
      regarding the basic principles of each faith;
     maintain contacts with local faith groups and organisations in
     raise awareness of the Medway Council calendar of religious dates
      and events to all staff and customers;
     assess the impact of current and proposed policies and practices
      and implement the actions set out in the Scheme;
     report on progress annually.

As part of some faiths or beliefs, necessary provisions may be required.
The opportunity to have a female repairs operative or a female
chaperone, due to religious mourning periods. mhs homes has included
this in our Single Equality Scheme and action plan to ensure that we can
understand more about these beliefs and are able to respond accordingly.

Raising awareness of the components of people’s faiths

It is important that mhs homes, our housing officers, stakeholders and
customers understand and respect an individual’s faith, religion or belief.
For this reason, improving our knowledge and awareness about faiths and
groups in Medway is important in understanding the issues that might be
faced by their worshippers.

Age Equality specific duties

The Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006 make
discrimination unlawful on ground of a person’s age and have now
extended this regulation to ensure people are no longer denied jobs
because of their age and to provide an equal chance of training and
mhs homes is committed to ensuring that the needs of people of
different ages (including older people and those requiring support
services) are taken into account in the development and provision of its

What this means for mhs homes

We employ a workforce made up of people of a wide range of ages and
we give all employees the opportunity to develop their skills and career
opportunities whatever their age. We are sensitive to the needs of
everyone who works for us and we offer a comprehensive employee
benefits package.

Age Equality Scheme Targets
As part of our Age Equality Scheme, commitment to equality and diversity
and providing equality of opportunity, mhs homes will:
    publish an Age Equality Scheme (included within this Single Equality
    carry out analysis of average age of staff within the organisation;
    consult with local groups on ages to see what issues they might
      face, related to housing and the communities they live in;
    utilise age profile information of our customers;
    communicate with local charitable organisations related to age (Age
      Concern, Help the Aged and younger persons charities);
    assess the impact of current and proposed policies and practices on
      age equality;
    implement the actions set out in the Scheme, and
    report on the progress annually.

It is important that mhs homes does not make assumptions about
customer’s expectations and needs relating to their age.

For mhs homes as an employer, the monitoring of interviews, appraisals,
promotions and leaving the company is vital for understanding staff in
relation to their age and equality of opportunity.

Pregnancy and Maternity

Pregnant women enjoy certain rights at work that give them protection
during the period of their pregnancy, as well as during maternity leave.
mhs homes sets this out in the employee handbook, for more details
please refer to the Human Resources Strategy.

Marriage and Civil Partnership

This characteristic cuts across several of the other equality strands.
Under the new Equality Act there is a potential to claim direct
discrimination because of a combination of two protected characteristics.
mhs homes, as employer and housing provider, must be aware of this
and adhere to all relevant legislation.

For all the above protected characteristics mhs homes will ensure:

     customer services and communication - that everyone has the
      opportunity to communicate with us and feels confident that no
      discrimination will be faced in doing so;

     community involvement and consultation - enables everyone
      to be involved and provides them with every opportunity to
      comment on how our services are provided and developed;

     hate crime – we will not tolerate hate crime based on anyone’s
      sexual orientation, faith, age, gender, transgender, disability or race
      and we will work with the Medway Police Hate Crime Unit to ensure
      that any homophobic related crimes or incitement to hate reports
      are thoroughly investigated.

Implementation of the Single Equality Scheme
Action 1: Improve access to information and services

Central to our approach to equality and diversity is the premise that this
is core within everything we do. Services are delivered in ways that are
inclusive of customers’ varied needs rather than having ‘add-ons’ to meet
the needs of minority groups. We will work alongside all service delivery
areas to ensure that equality and diversity are embedded into both their
consultation with customers and also into the delivery of services.

Customer services will be accessible through a variety of arrangements
including visits to service access points, phone and Typetalk, text
messaging, email, our mhs homes website, letters and home visits. mhs
express High Street office and mhs homes Broadside Head Office are
DDA compliant which means that all buildings are accessible and usable
under Part M of the Building Regulations (1999).

Induction loops are available at service access points and staff are trained
to assist customers who are having difficulties accessing services at the
counter due to disability or language difficulties. Alternative forms of
communication such as large print, audio tapes, sign language, Typetalk,
Braille and ALS Language Line are all available to our customers.

Action 2: Promote equality and diversity within our strategies and
service delivery

Letting our homes
In letting properties mhs homes operates a policy that seeks to be
transparent, equitable and accountable for the benefits of individuals and
the community.

Different groups of people may have different experiences and outcomes
when finding themselves homeless. It is important that mhs homes
understand these differences so that they can ensure the needs of
different people are met in an appropriate way.

Specific support available from us should also be arranged to meet the
needs of vulnerable people. It is also important that the use of choice
based lettings addresses the specific needs and experiences of people.

mhs homes will work in partnership with appropriate organisations to
provide housing that meets all customers’ needs, including the best use of
homes with aids and adaptations.

Your neighbourhood
mhs homes actively promotes community cohesion. People can suffer
from harassment and anti-social behaviour on many and often multiple
diversity grounds. We can help tackle these issues not only through
effective communication and management of cases when reported, but
also through working in communities and with individuals.

mhs homes will work with the Medway Police Hate Crime Unit and other
relevant partnerships to ensure that any crimes or incitement to hate
reports are thoroughly investigated. This will demonstrate that mhs
homes will not tolerate hate crime based on any of the diversity strands.

We recognise that housing should make people feel safe and secure, but
for some people home can be a place where people are subjected to
abuse and violence. The majority of people who report domestic violence
are women; but men, same sex relationships, elderly and minority ethnic
people can also be victims.     We will support anybody who reports
domestic abuse and will work towards a solution and/or action against the

Building and improving our homes
In order to ensure that the new build scheme is reflective of the mhs
homes customer needs, the customers will be involved in every feasible
aspect of design briefs and evaluation forums.

The development team are hosting focus groups to hear the views of the
residents who live in our new build properties, to both gain additional
feedback on their experience of mhs homes and their property, and their
suggestions of prospective improvements.

The development team will also be exploring the demand for specialist
units such as wheelchair adapted homes, BAME units and accommodation
for individuals with different learning or physical needs. At mhs homes,
we need to draw on our own customer profile information and tap into
Medway Council’s data to identify the demand and determine the
provision requirements for these types of units.

mhs homes plan to improve all their properties so they continue to meet
national standards. We will ensure that our customers have appropriate
access to our buildings, and the common areas of our flatted blocks.
Additionally we will facilitate improvements and adaptations to customers’
homes. A review of the adaptations process is currently underway to
ensure it is meeting our customers’ needs.

mhs homes is responsible for maintaining and upgrading all properties.
Safety and security in our homes is important to us. We have a planned
programme to ensure compliance with the Disability Discrimination Act
and will continue to audit our sheltered schemes to ensure that they meet
all the requirements.

We will explain the nature of the work to be carried out and give our
customers timescales and keep them informed every step of the way.
mhs homes will continue to ask for representation from our customers to
take part in a Tender Evaluation Panel Meeting to help chose which
Contractor we should use.      Additionally, for our upcoming planned
internal improvement works, through customer profiling, we will look to
target customers with service need for an OT assessment. These works
can then be progressed in partnership with Medway Council/Occupational
Therapy to make efficient use of combined resources and Disabled
Facilities Grant.

Action 3: Utilise profiling information to prioritise and develop our

Involvement and empowerment
The circumstances and backgrounds of people, including those with
specific needs relating to disability and from different gender groups, may
create barriers to engaging in resident involvement activities. This could
result in certain groups of people being excluded from influencing how
their homes and neighbourhoods are managed. mhs homes understand
these potential barriers and work with service users to develop strategies
in such a way as to provide fair and equal access to resident involvement.

mhs homes will equality impact our resident involvement activities to
ensure that they are promoted in positive ways which suit people’s
lifestyles and are accessible to people with a disability. We would like
customers to feel confident that mhs homes recognises, promotes and
supports appropriate resident groups and gives residents access to clear
information on the criteria we use when supporting the establishment of
residents groups.

Comments, compliments and complaints
mhs homes welcome any feedback or comments from customers and
stakeholders on our service as they provide us with valuable feedback on
how we are performing. We aim to provide a high quality service to
everyone we work with.

We monitor the effectiveness of the complaints by collecting all relevant
information and diversity statistics in order to undertake reviews of our
policies, strategies, projects and service delivery.

We hold information on complainants, number of complaints received, the
speed of complaints resolution and tenant satisfaction with the resolution.
From this information, we aim to:

     identify areas of dissatisfaction with the service;
     highlight areas for service improvement;
     monitor the effectiveness of service improvements;
     meet best value requirements; and
     produce a monthly statistical report.

Our comments, compliments and complaints system allows us to monitor
customer feedback by age, disability, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation
and religion. From the analysis we can act on the outcomes in order to
improve service delivery and to ensure our services are fair and fully

Action 4: Develop equality and diversity issues within our staffing
practices and internal systems

Our people
mhs homes believes that by positively embracing diversity and having a
fully inclusive attraction and recruitment policy, we will attract a more
diverse pool of applicants from which to recruit. A workforce that reflects
the make up of the communities we serve will assist us to improve
customer service by being better able to relate to the needs of our diverse
customer base.

Our employment aims are:

     to develop a diverse, valued and culturally competent workforce,
      capable of responding to the needs of the diverse communities we
     to develop a workforce that is representative of the local
      community, including representation at senior levels of the
      organisation and on the Board;
     to fulfil our commitment to the Jobcentre Plus Two Ticks Disability
      symbol user to interview those who meet essential requirements for
      the job, support and make every effort to keep employees who
      become disabled, to develop disability awareness and annually
      review our commitments;
     to fulfil our commitment to deliver 5 days training per year for each
      member of staff to achieve accreditation in Investors In People
     to help ensure staff are no longer denied jobs, training or promotion
      because of their age;
     we will monitor the number of people on all diversity strands that
      we employ and involve them in the development of our working
      policies to provide flexibility for everyone so that they can be
      themselves, maximise their individual potential and support family
      and caring structures;
     provide training for all new and existing employees and board
      members to raise awareness of equality and diversity and enable
      them to work and deliver services in a non discriminatory way;
     develop a system which will prevent, detect and rectify instances in
      which the pay for work of equal value is not equal between men,
      women and transgender people.

Training and development
mhs homes recognise the importance of ensuring inclusive design and
equal access to all staff for training and development. We will establish a
monitoring system to establish the extent to which minority groups from
the diversity strands access training and development opportunities.
mhs homes will also continue to offer equality and diversity training to
all its Board and employees on a regular basis. We will also invite our
sub-contractors, customers and local management committee members
on to diversity training courses when appropriate.

mhs homes are fully committed to promoting equality and diversity
through its procurement process. An important part of this commitment is
encouraging and, where possible, requiring, companies and other
organisations to practise equalities and diversity in employment and
service delivery.

The evidence on how we measure equality and diversity qualitative
aspects within our contracts will need to be demonstrated through our
agreed Service Level Agreements offering ‘added value’ assessments
within our contracts e.g. flexible appointments for workers, equality and
diversity assessments etc. This will all be a continuous improvement

mhs homes will set clear targets for service delivery and recruitment by
carrying out equality impact assessments and monitoring customer
satisfaction with our services. We also set targets for our contractors and
suppliers. Compliance by partners will be monitored through an annual

Targets should be SMART and are reviewed against outcomes achieved
but mhs homes recognises that not all progress can be reduced to

Action 5: Champion equality and diversity through our leadership
and governance structures

mhs homes regards equality and diversity as a key corporate issue
which involves all staff, customers as part of its resident and community
involvement framework and at the highest strategic level, the Board.
Overall responsibility for the Single Equality Scheme rests with the Board
of mhs homes who is charged with the responsibility of developing an
organisational culture in which the Single Equality Scheme can be
implemented by Directors Team and Management and effectively
operated. The Chair of the Board of mhs homes acts as Equality and
Diversity Champion and the Chief Executive as Champion within the

All staff receive structured diversity awareness training which has been
tailored to reflect the mhs homes business ethos and local operating
conditions and share the same accountability and responsibility for
diversity. Board training sessions have also been delivered to help non-
Executives gain a comprehensive understanding of the needs of people
who make up our community and how mhs homes is addressing those
We take positive steps to ensure that all services to customers are shaped
around their needs and requirements by making sure each strategy,
policy or project has undergone an equality impact assessment.


mhs homes take the view that it is essential that any actions relating to
equality and diversity be monitored to ensure progress is being made
towards goals. We will monitor our outcomes via the action plans set out
in our Single Equality Scheme.

We will continue to monitor customer satisfaction in our key service

Annual monitoring cycles set a baseline and give a clear view on how well
we are achieving our goals. Without monitoring, our actions may never
be more than aspirations.

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