I’m new to this blogging malarkey but I am trying to get with the times particularly because I want to share with you the important role of National Smaller Housing Associations Group.
Claire Warren is Chief Executive of Pickering and Ferens Homes and a member of the National Smaller Housing Associations Group
20 May 2016
When talking about the role that smaller housing association’s play within the sector I could tell you about how close the customer relationship is between smaller housing associations and their customers, I could tell you about the meaningful contribution they play at a very local community level, I could tell you about the dedicated niche provision that smaller housing association play to often excluded groups of people within society and I could tell you that there is no clear evidence that smaller associations are less efficient than the rest. I could…. but I’m happy to let the facts speak for themselves.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not sizest. When it comes to housing providers I think excellent organisations and excellent work comes in many different shapes and forms. The benefits of great leadership, efficient and responsive services, commercial acumen and sound financial management play out, irrespective of the size of an organisation.
However, what I have observed is that on occasion the role of smaller housing providers is greatly under-rated. And, if I’m honest, there’s also a propensity for us smaller housing associations to underplay our collective hand.
Like everyone smaller housing associations are grappling with the new policy environment and its recognisable that for us to move forward and sustain services in the way our tenants want us to we will need to reassess our plans, work smarter and wider than historically we have had to do.
The Federation’s recent perceptions research illustrated to me that key stakeholders often forget the diversity of the sector. They forget that housing associations come in a variety of shapes and sizes and they forget that actually the majority of organisations within the sector is made up of smaller providers (Federation members with fewer than 2000 units make up 55.1% of our membership).
Smaller housing associations rarely have the capacity to generate high profile marketing and PR campaigns but they certainly have the ability to promote the sector and influence the views of others at the local level.
Raising the voice of smaller housing associations within the sector is something that the National Smaller Housing Associations Group is seeking to gather some momentum on. We need to use our collective strength to help the whole of the sector reframe some of those perceptions,especially where our positive stories and messages on a local level have gone astray at the national level.
We will be developing our approach to communicating with regional groups but also making ourselves more accessible to take on the news and views of the wider smaller association membership. Watch this space and let’s get all those voices heard. It’s too important to the future of our sector not to.