I’ve been a tenant of Saffron Housing for almost ten years now, and joined the board in 2018.
I've been on boards for other organizations but mainly in disability rights in in the third sector, because that’s my day job: disability consultant. But it's important because there aren't that many opportunities for accessible housing in the UK: without my tenancy at Saffron my life would be much more restricted, so for me there's also an element of giving back. I also wanted to understand more about what’s going on in the sector and if I can learn something. I feel like I’ve added something.
The areas that I personally found most challenging are finance and development; learning about those in a housing context. Obviously I have insight into the customer experience – that wasn't new to me. But those two areas ended up not being as scary as I assumed they might be. My board colleagues are able to share advice and knowledge, so anytime I felt like I didn't know enough, I've always got somebody that I can call upon and ask to explain it in a really basic way. And then in areas that I’m stronger in, disability access and inclusion, I can provide insight for others.
I’m proud of the progression I’ve seen at Saffron from when I joined. Through a period of change and challenge we’ve grown into an organization that puts the community at the heart of what it does. All our work is informed by what our community is telling us, like the elements of the Inspiring Saffron project that’s launched this year.
It's not just about the bricks and mortar, how many units can we build; it’s about how we can support people to live the best life they can. A home is a crucial part of that. We're working together with tenants to get to shared goals. To provide houses that are homes, that people are proud to live in and within communities that they're active members of.
Outside my work on the board, I’m keenly competitive. I played wheelchair basketball and was heavily into disability sport for many years, I’m always up for a charity match. I’m also a Human Book as part of the Human Library, a voluntary project to help tackle stigma where I answer questions about life as a wheelchair user and as a dyslexic.
We’re spinning so many plates at the moment, working in housing, so I would like to ask the next board member, what’s the one thing that keeps you up at night and what can we do to address that?