Meet the regional manager: Rebecca Clarke - South East, London and Eastern
We spoke to Rebecca Clarke to find out more about her role at CIH and the work she is doing with CIH members in the South East, London and Eastern regions.
Tell us a bit about your career to date.
After graduating in 2014 from the University of Birmingham with a degree in Economic and Social History, it is safe to say that I wasn't aware of all the fantastic opportunities housing could offer. I ended up working in recruitment like many other new graduates. This was never the long-term plan as my passion truly lay within housing having focused on this during my time at University. I eventually went on to work for Orbit Group as part of their Service Matters brand as a Business Development Manager. This was a great opportunity to work closely with all of their back office functions and where I met the current CIH Futures Chair Elly Hoult who was my line manager at the time. I couldn't have asked for a better grounding in housing and it has all gone from there. I started work in my new role at CIH as regional manager for London, South East and Eastern regions and haven't looked back since. Lots of people say they 'fell into housing', I can definitely say that I chose housing when given the chance and can't wait to see what the future holds!
What do you do in your current role?
My current role of regional manager sees me focusing on going out and meeting members all over London, the South East and Eastern regions. Whether this be working with individuals or their organisations, I pride myself on helping members realise the benefits of being a part of CIH. I go out and host member workshops, go on best practice visits and support our regional boards to achieve everything that will see CIH be a success and a continued presence for the next 100 years and beyond - an exciting challenge.
What is an average day like?
No day is the same in my current role. One day I could be attending a regional board meeting, the next heading off to a free regional training session, hosting a webinar or meeting with organisations all over my regions. The response to my role has been brilliant and it is clear that professionalism within housing is still held in high regard. A key focus for me personally is working on our #HRChat to really support L&D professionals and HR departments work with their staff in the best ways possible. My role allows me to truly champion the housing sector professional and that for me, is an amazing feeling. Asides from this, I am extremely keen to see our CIH Futures group be successful in attracting more young people into a housing career and progressing the next generation of housing leaders. I think having every day be different is something that is great about my role and I love it.
What do you like most about working in housing?
Working in housing is something that I knew I wanted to do when at University. Having studied it and written a 30,000 word dissertation on it, you could say I became engrossed in it. Social housing has long been a central pillar of the UK and I want to ensure that the work I do, ensures that it stays this way. Whilst the sector continually changes and faces new challenges, the role and purpose remains the same. Housing is the foundation to everything in life, it offers security and a platform for people to then go on and succeed elsewhere in life. We help people from all walks of life and I think the ability to make a difference motivates me on a daily basis in striving to champion housing professionals up and down the country.
What is the best thing about working for the sector’s professional body?
It is hard to pinpoint one thing that I think is best about working for the sector's professional body. However, for me it is about championing the people that work in housing that is key. I think housing as a sector gets a lot of negative press both rightly and wrongly, which can make the life of someone who works in housing, at times, difficult. It is absilutely vital that they feel as though they are part of a community, not in a bubble. Our work also encourages people to celebrate their success and we give them a real voice. Supporting housing professionals I think is inspiring and an essential for us to continue the amazing work that we do.
What do you think the biggest issues in housing in your region are at the moment?
Everything about the housing crisis is probably felt most acutely within the regions that I cover. The lack of affordable housing is there for everyone to see, with the average price in London being £435,000 and £290,000 in the South East. In the Eastern region, many again cannot afford a home even at 80% of the market rate. Experts claim it needs to be closer to 60% to become realisitic for people there. Asides from this we have a homelessness crisis, whether this be rural homelessness in the East or the one in 59 people in London current homeless. Finally, I think my regions like others, face a real challenge on how they deliver services moving forwards. There needs to be a period where we re-evaluate and plan to tackle all of these issues. For many this amounts to wholesale transformation programmes and for others assessments on day to day working and stock management. How do we make ourselves fit for the future? Big challenges that we will be helping members and organisations alike to address in the coming months.
Our regional manager roles are still quite new, why do you think it’s important we have representatives in each region and what do you hope to achieve in the role?
The regional manager role is vital to the work and value of the CIH. We have not had the same level of regional engagement before, meaning that at times, we could have been accused of not providing a realistic picture of issues specific regions across the country. The role of the housing professional in London is drastically different to that of counterparts in the East. When it comes to policy, we need to be able to see the whole picture and if it is different we need to say that and tailor our work to be of the most benefit and value to our members in those respective regions. People I'm sure will start to see the results of this regional approach in the coming months. We are in listening mode and I would love to hear from the members in my region on what you feel we need to be doing to help you.