12 March 2019

Last year I joined the board of L&Q, having been a resident for over 20 years. Being a new board member has brought me closer to the broad set of challenges my organisation faces. And so it is important to me, as a board member, to be aware of the latest thinking and innovation within the housing sector and beyond.

With this in mind, I attended my first National Housing Summit last year and it didn’t disappoint. I was impressed both by the calibre of participants and speakers at the sessions, and by the breadth of topics covered.

It was the first time that a sitting Prime Minister has been present at a housing conference, which added even more excitement. And we also heard from John Healey, Shadow Secretary of State for Housing, who presented his vision for housing.

I felt a definite sense of optimism within the room, which suggested a positive change in how our sector is seen. I felt that housing was on the top of everyone’s agenda across the political spectrum, and that housing associations are being seen as key players in solving the housing crisis.

What to expect from the National Housing Summit

The National Housing Summit is bold in its approach both in terms of topics and discussion formats. Topics at last year’s Summit included how to deal with the skills shortage in light of Brexit, changes in manufacturing, housing in the aftermath of Grenfell, how we listen to residents and implement change, and how we tackle affordability and diversity in the housing sector.

I particularly enjoyed the ‘Greenhouse’ section of the summit. Young professionals in the sector presented projects in a ‘Dragon’s Den’ style, looking at how to solve current housing problems and improving ways of working. It is clear we have the talents and abilities in our sector to achieve great things.

How we engage with residents in the sector is vitally important. I’m pleased to say this conversation is going to be an important part of this year’s National Housing Summit. As an L&Q Involved Resident (official resident representative), I’ve been passionate about resident engagement for many years. For me, it’s not just about listening to residents, but working with residents as equal partners to design and improve services. There are great examples of this in the sector that can be shared to help us all improve.

At this year’s Summit, I’m looking forward to thought-provoking discussion and debate about how we achieve more as a sector in terms of building a greater trust and respect between landlords and residents. I know this is an issue the Federation is addressing through its Together with Tenants work, and I’m eager to hear the initial results of that process at the Summit. We also need address the stigma within social housing and explore what can be done to combat this.

An opportunity to look ahead and beyond our sector

There are also economic challenges that we as a sector – and the country as a whole – continue to face. What part can housing associations play in this? Are we robust enough to deal with the wider uncertainties? How do we link up with other sectors, such as the benefit system?

This year’s Summit will build on the success of last year’s. It’s also an opportunity to network with peers across the sector. The housing crisis is ever evolving and affecting more and more people, we are seeing rising homeless, and we cannot afford to stand still. Taking part in the Summit exposes you to current thinking, but is also an opportunity to challenge you to look ahead and beyond our sector.

For me, the main reason to attend the Summit is to explore diverse solutions to challenges we all face. I’m looking forward to this year’s Summit and would encourage other board members, and all housing professionals, to attend. There really is something for everyone.

Find out more about the 2019 National Housing Summit.

Fayann Simpson

Fayann Simpson is a Board Member at L&Q and member of the National Housing Summit steering group.

Why I think you should attend the National Housing Summit – there really is something for everyone