The LGA’s new podcasts shine a light on the work of councils as they tackle societal issues such as housing supply and homelessness.
Last autumn, the LGA launched a new podcast series that aims to highlight to the public the inspiring work councils carry out on a daily basis to keep their residents safe, healthy and happy.
Forget What You Think You Know also looks at some of the key societal issues residents face, and what needs to be done to tackle them.
We interview people facing these issues, council staff working on the frontline to help their communities through, and policy and sector experts in each topic area to hear what policy changes could alleviate the problems.
So far, we have published two episodes in the series. In the first, which was released in October, we focused on council housing and how it could hold the key to solving the housing crisis.
We visited Norwich City Council to find out about its national award-winning council housing scheme, Goldsmith Street. It won the prestigious RIBA Stirling Award in 2019, the first council housing scheme in Britain to do so, beating competition from innovative private developments such as the London Bridge tube station renovation.
We spoke to a number of people involved, including Alan Jones, President of the Royal Institute of British Architects, and the architects responsible for the scheme.
We also talked to Kate Henderson, Chief Executive of the National Housing Federation, about the national housing picture, what needs to change for us to achieve a renaissance in council and social housing, and why it is so important we get building these types of homes again.
In the second episode, released just before Christmas, we focused on homelessness in England, and the effect the pandemic has had on it.
We talked to Alek, a 27-year-old from Estonia, who was homeless and living on the streets of London during the COVID-19 outbreak in March 2020.
He told us about how he first ended up living on the streets, how Haringey Council helped him find safe accommodation to shelter from the dangers of the virus, and the continued support he has received from the council as he looks to progress with his life.
We also spoke to staff at Haringey Council working with the borough’s homeless to hear how the pandemic gave them an opportunity to change their approach to tackling street homelessness, and how they are working to sustain this approach in the future.
Finally, Matt Downie MBE, Director of Policy and External Affairs at homelessness charity Crisis, gave us the national picture, and highlighted what policies are needed to help councils help their homeless.
You can find our podcast on Apple, Spotify and Acast by searching for ‘the LGA Podcast’.
Alternatively, you can visit our website, where all of the episodes are available, along with a transcript of – and images from – our interviews. Go to www.local.gov.uk/lga-podcast
More shows are being planned for 2021, and will explore topics such as councils’ role in public health services during the pandemic and the impact of COVID-19 on skills and employment.