Introducing: HACT’s new Social Insight Lead in Scotland

By Michael McLaughlin, Social Insight Lead Scotland - on 24/01/2020

Michael McLaughlin, HACT's new Social Insight Lead in Scotland, discusses his job which will improve the skills and knowledge around social value impact in the Scottish social housing sector.

The new year brought a new start for me, beginning my role as HACT’s Social Insight Lead, based at the SFHA in Glasgow.

I was excited to get going – starting in the first full week in January made perfect sense to me – however I hadn’t really accounted for the difficulty of settling back into any job after two weeks off at Christmas. Having not been out of the house before lunchtime since Santa had arrived, getting a four and a five-year-old out their bed and ready for school for the first time since the middle of December, finding that the well ironed clothes I’d left out didn’t fit me as well as they did prior to Christmas, ironing another set of clothes, doing the school run slightly behind time, and travelling to a new office, was a bit more stressful than I had certainly planned for! 

Thankfully I managed to find my feet in no time, and my first trip down to HACT HQ in London proved far less traumatic than my first day back after the Christmas break.

HACT, SFHA and the Lintel Trust have worked closely together over the past 40 years to provide funding and support for the growth of the social housing sector and supporting housing-based work with disadvantaged people. The three organisations have now come together to create my role, as Social Insight Lead in Scotland, with the aim of continuing this support for the sector.

While I’m a member of the HACT staff, I’m based at SFHA and the team there have been great in welcoming me on board.  I am delighted to be working to bring the great social value work HACT has developed over the last decade to SFHA’s members and bringing a collaborative approach to the Scottish housing sector.

Over the last 16 years, I’ve worked in various housing association roles and am massively aware of the great work they carry out within their communities. I also understand the importance of being able to quantify the impact of this work and how challenging this can be.  Given continued reduction in public spending, the role of social housing organisations as community anchors is increasingly central to the lives of their tenants.

Thankfully, the UK Social Value Bank, developed by HACT and Simetrica, and associated tools – including Community Insight and the free, downloadable calculator –make this far more accessible, appreciated, and quantifiable. These tools can help organisations report to boards, funders, and residents with far greater ease, assurance and accuracy about their social impact. As a sector, this will help us create a collective capacity to identify and respond to needs and social trends.

With SFHA’s Online Innovation Hub just launched at the start of this year, alongside the HACT Social Value in Housing Taskforce which SFHA is a key member of, the Scottish sector is ideally placed to adopt HACT’s social value tools and expertise.

Over the coming weeks, I will be working directly with SFHA members to develop the basis for a toolkit and guidance document on how to embed social value tools within their individual organisations. I will be engaging as widely as possible in order to increase awareness of HACT and improve skills and knowledge around social value.

If you are interested in finding out more on this exciting project, please call me on 0141 567 6247, email, or find me on social media on Twitter @mclaughlin_m_ and Instagram @mclaughlin_m_hact

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