Communicating with different groups – diversity

Written in partnership with the Housing Diversity Network

Diversity can’t be considered in isolation; it should run through everything you do. Taking a personalised approach, and listening to residents, will help make sure you cater for a wide range of different needs.

Below are some top tips to help you communicate and engage with residents about energy efficiency work in an inclusive way.

Use demographic data

Make sure this informs your initial contact with the resident, think about things like:

  • Do they need a translated version of the letter if English is a second language?
  • Do they need it in an accessible format, such as easy read for learning difficulties, or braille for visual impairments? Find out more in the guide to accessible formats.
  • Is a letter the best format for initial contact, or would a phone call or home visit be better?

You can also use this data to plan the resources you’re likely to need for the project.

It may be helpful to do an Equality Impact Assessment (EIA) when starting a large project. An EIA is an evidence-based approach designed to help organisations ensure that their policies, practices, events and decision-making processes are fair and do not present barriers to participation or disadvantage any protected groups from taking part in the project.

Think about things like:

  • Are some of the residents, if for example they have a disability, more likely to need extra support? Have you allocated budget for this?
  • Will people with children need more support or adjustments, such as welcoming children to community information events, or avoiding intrusive work during the school holidays?
  • Do people from different cultural backgrounds use their homes in different ways? What do you need to do to accommodate this? For example, if they’re doing a lot of home cooking, are they likely to need mechanical ventilation to cope with the steam produced?
  • Understand the religious needs of residents and consider how you can accommodate these in your project. It might be more appropriate to have a face to face conversation with residents rather than do surveys.

Get to know residents before the work starts

Demographic data is a useful starting point, but it doesn’t tell the whole story – each resident is an individual with different needs. In the step-by-step communication process, we recommend customer engagement officers meet with residents to get to know them, understand what their individual needs are, and how these can be supported.

Accessibility for all

Make communication as accessible as possible by default, this will reduce the number of modifications you’ll need to make.

This includes things like:

Written communications

  • Use a minimum of font size of 14 so people with visual impairments are more likely to be able to read the text.
  • Follow Plain English Guidelines and use short sentences. This will benefit some people with disabilities, those with English as a second language, and people with a low level of literacy. You’ll also find most residents prefer communications to be clear and simple – it makes things easier for them, especially if they’re reading things in a rush.

Online communication

  • Consider that some residents may not have online access or may prefer other channels.
  • A lot of residents however, like to be able to access information online, quickly, and easily, as and when they need it.
  • Online information can also be made accessible more easily than print materials, by using translation tools or screen readers for visual impairments.
  • Choose accessible colour schemes – Scope have a useful article about accessible colour contrast.
  • Special consideration needs to given to screen readers – more guidance is available on the RNIB website.
    • Use alt text for images.
    • Avoid text in images as screen readers cannot pick up on this.
    • Break up the text with clearly formatted sub-headings.


  • Think about the timing of events and make sure it meets the needs of most of the residents in the community. You may need to run a daytime and evening session to accommodate most people’s needs.
  • Welcome children to events to make them easier for parents to attend.
  • Choose an accessible venue. You may sometimes find that demo homes are not accessible due to the nature of the property. If it is not possible to make the home accessible make sure you put good alternative arrangements in place for anyone unable to access it.

The RNIB has some useful guidance covering on and offline communications and events. They’re for health and social care providers but can be applied to housing too. They will help you meet the needs of people with visual impairments, and some of the tips will be helpful for people with other needs too.


Make sure your communications represent the residents that live in your homes. Feature people from different backgrounds, types of household (families, couple, single people etc), ages, and those with or without disabilities. You’ll be able to tell a wider range of stories, and residents are more likely identify with the communications.

Try to recruit resident ambassadors that are representative of the community. That way they’re more likely to be able to give you a full picture of any issues and concerns that residents have.

Nothing beats employing people from minority communities when working in these areas, especially because they will have knowledge of local contacts, events and an understanding of the cultural issues.

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