Last week, as the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) celebrated their 100th birthday, I had the terrifying opportunity to speak at the CIH London and South East event at City Hall.
It was an honour to meet some amazing and passionate professionals and to share a platform with such brilliant and successful women as Anne Chapman and Kate Dodson.
I was invited to talk about the housing challenge our sector is facing and the impact we can have as housing professionals.
Everyone is well aware we’re in a housing crisis. The impact of welfare reform, the increase in homelessness and soaring house prices are all putting pressure on social housing providers.
The way that we develop and deliver social housing is changing – some may argue that with the necessity of profit making activities and the pressure to deliver more homes without subsidy is increasing resulting in social housing providers becoming more commercial in their ways of operating than ever before.
In these challenging times, I want to share my experience of the value of CIH membership and how important I feel it is moving forward.
Like many of us, I fell into housing. I have been a member of the CIH for a number of years, starting when I completed my level 3 certificate in housing practice. I had just been given a secondment opportunity to a housing officer role, and wanted to broaden my knowledge and skill set to help me be better at my job.
Following completing the level 3, a chance meeting with the then chair of the CIH SW board resulted in me successfully applying for a CIH bursary for my level 4 certificate. The qualifications are hugely valuable, but the value to individuals and organisations is so much more than that.
I found that it opened my eyes to the wider perspective of housing. It’s so easy to get bogged down in your day job – going from one task to the next. Being a CIH member has completely broadened my horizons to the wider impact that I can personally have on the sector. It has enabled me to think more strategically and has given me huge confidence to share my experiences and views on how to meet the challenges that we’re facing.
This is one of the reasons that I believe CIH membership is so important to organisations. Every one of us working in the sector is contributing to the way our society is changing. I have had the opportunity to meet some amazing people and learn from them – which would never have happened without the CIH.
The CIH also play a big role in shaping our profession; and we’re a profession that can’t agree as to whether we are a profession or not! But we are a profession – a diverse one, a rewarding one and an important one. Going forward, we need to promote housing as a career of choice and harness the talent that is already in the sector to ensure that the future leaders are given opportunities to learn and grow – enter the CIH!
Personally for me, one of my biggest concerns moving forward is the risk of housing providers losing their social purpose under the strain of the lack of appropriate subsidy. The only way that we won’t lose this is by having passionate, socially minded people working in the sector to ensure that this doesn’t get lost. We have a huge responsibility as housing providers to ensure that that housing needs are met – the impact that we have on wider society is so huge that we must keep hold of the core values as to why we’re here in the first place.
This is why the CIH is so important in these challenging times. We need to learn from each other, and the CIH enables us to do that. We need good standards set and best practice. Most of all we need to enable passionate people to drive the sector forward.