Opportunity in uncertain times

On behalf of the CIH East Midlands, I recently organised a leaders round table event on the subject of opportunity in uncertain times

It goes without saying, the pace and scale of change is out of this world in recent months and it’s easy to get lost in it all. So it’s more important than ever that we take time to look for the opportunities, the silver linings, in all this uncertainty.

The event featured three brilliant speakers, who provided thought-provoking insight at the start of the event to kick start the discussion.

Julie Fadden, Chief Executive of SLH Group and the current CIH President. Julie spoke very passionately about the role of housing providers, housing professionals and the CIH to bring about the change our customers and communities need and deserve. Julie challenged everyone to leave the world a better place every single day, to do something new, as leaders to bring out the best in those we work with and to focus on our response to the uncertainty, rather than getting wrapped up in the detail of it all.

Chan Kataria, Chief Executive, emh group, who focused on opportunities for unity among the increasing diversity and opposition that we see, such as haves vs have nots, cities vs counties vs regions, housing associations vs local authorities, renters vs home owners, etc. What I took away from Chan’s speech was that we need to recognise the gulf between the views of housing sector employees and board directors (a load of lefty liberals if you believe the stereotype) and those of our customers/tenants/residents (delete as preferred, who voted for Brexit in their droves). For the sector to have customers at their heart, it is vital that we take some time to understand and respect their views and tackle the underlying issues where possible. Chan highlighted some useful research that details the contrasts between the have and the have nots, see here

Lucy Pedrick, Policy Officer (Brexit Specialist), National Housing Federation very kindly joined us on the day of the Supreme Court judgement regarding Article 50 and kept us up to date with the latest announcements. Lucy has an exceptional understanding of her subject and its importance to housing. She explained to us that Brexit is not a risk, it is a certainty, that brings both risks and opportunities with it. It is also a really interesting lens through which to view the world, focusing our attention on things that until now have been on the periphery and which we ignore at our peril. It is also a catalyst, enhancing existing problems, such as the skills gap in care and construction, but also creating increased pressure to tackle them.

A really interesting debate followed the opening remarks by our speakers, and some of the highlights for me were:
– the enthusiasm of all parts of the sector to work together to make sure there are enough homes for everyone
– the recognition that after a few difficult years, our relationship with the Government seems to have turned a corner. Many in the room agreed that doors are open for us to push against and ideas/proposals are welcome. To continue on this path with Government though, it is vital we deliver on the promises we have made in terms of housebuilding
– that we are not as powerless as we sometimes think we are
– don’t get distracted by everything that is going on and some of the digital fads, the important thing will always be humans helping fellow humans, providing homes that people can have really great lives in.