Housing associations are delivering ground-breaking, creative projects that have a profound impact on people’s daily lives.
By David Orr, Chief Executive of the National Housing Federation
5 June 2014
It was a Tuesday evening a couple of weeks ago. I'd had a busy day at work but I was conscious that I was to be one of the judges the next day of our national Community Impact Awards. I don't mind admitting I felt a bit weary of the prospect of sitting down with the 80 pages I had to read through which were the submissions of the all regional winners.
It only took about 10 pages until that mood changed. That was how long it took for me, once again, to be inspired by the truly remarkable work described in the submissions and being done in the various projects. Green projects, challenging poor behaviour, addressing gun and knife crime, helping people into employment - all the things we take for granted but which are, in fact, groundbreaking, creative work that has a profound impact on people's daily lives.
We have to stop taking this for granted and start shouting about it – just like we have done this week. Many of the projects celebrated in Community Impact Week and at next week’s national awards may seem like small, unimportant local projects. They are not. Some may be small, but none is lacking ambition. They may not all affect thousands of people but those they do affect benefit hugely. Collectively, it is a massive contribution to community safety, improved health, local economic development, confidence building and the creation of great places to live. If they were not there, the whole nation would be substantially the poorer.
No one tells housing associations they have to do this. They do it because they are genuine social enterprises that really do exist for the benefit of the communities where they work. They do it because, as independent organisations, they can see that something needs to be done and they get on and do it, on their own or in partnership with others. The pervasive accusation that housing associations have 'just become big businesses' is given the lie by this huge body of work right across the country.
So go on: shout about it. Take advantage of these final few days of Community Impact Week to tell the world how amazing you are. You inspired me, and I see your work every single day. Just think how you could inspire others.