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The Chartered Institute of Housing is the independent voice for housing and the home of professional standards

Awards in austerity?


Awards season is fast approaching, during what is arguably our sector's most challenging year yet. So should we be hosting these kinds of events while budgets are being slashed so dramatically? Ongo customer service senior and CIH's 2015 Rising Star Julie Wass shares her views.

Image of paper people holding handsPolicy changes like the social housing rent cut and further welfare reform have cast a grey shadow hanging over the future of social housing providers with the recently announced budget cuts. There's a lot of talk of a 'second wave' of cuts for those lucky enough to survive the current ones, suggesting an even bleaker future. With all this going on, it's understandable that some people may feel that money is too tight to be wasted on award ceremonies.

This shadow hanging over our usually-vibrant industry will pass, and this will happen with the help of our industry's finest - the people who are adapting to change and helping others through it, pulling out all the stops along the way. Great things don’t come from ‘run of the mill’ work - they come from people who put their passion, energy and personality into a job well done. Recognising when an individual or a team does something special for a worthy cause has the ability to motivate those groups and inspire others in a way nothing else could.

Forget the tough times ahead - the recent talk of removing awards or not taking part is the only thing that turns my vibrant world grey! What we need as an industry right now are truly motivated people, who feel valued and confident to adapt and prepare for changes in a way they've never had to before.

This is my very personal opinion. Of course, winning the Rising Stars award has been monumental in changing my perception of my role as a housing professional. It's inspired me in a way no seminar or training course could have done. Before Rising Stars I lived in my little bubble with ongo, but post-Rising Stars I'm now seeing the big picture, which is getting bigger by the day.

I am now part of my CIH regional board, my Women in Social Housing regional board, and I am involved with various local partnerships and with my local council. I'm working with CIH President Geraldine Howley and a fantastic bunch of housing professionals to set up an event for people new to housing, helping to prepare and 'up-skill' delegates ready for the challenge ahead. I have a decent little network which is growing by the week, which is far beyond North Lincolnshire. I owe this all to the Rising Stars award as, along with the opportunities it has presented, it has made me realise the value I can bring to the sector beyond what was my own little world. I am now performing in my role better than I ever did before and this benefits my customers, colleagues and community.

I suggest you encourage a hard worker you know to apply for an award and see what it does for their confidence, motivation and productivity. If you’re still not sold on the idea after that, we can agree to disagree!

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