Meet your new London board chair
Kate Dodsworth was recently appointed as chair of the London board - we caught up with her over the summer to find out a bit more about her.
Tell us a bit about your life in housing…
It started 25 years ago when I found a card in my local West Midlands Jobcentre advertising for an admin assistant. It was in a 100-bed direct access hostel! Pretty soon I was found out as being utterly useless at administration but rather better at working with people with challenging issues and/or behaviour. I went on to work with rough sleepers in Birmingham and then in homelessness and mental health in Brighton where I managed another large hostel.
I did a master's degree in housing and moved to the National Housing Federation where I worked in policy for a while before becoming an assistant director covering London. It was a brilliant experience working with housing associations, City Hall and London councils to lobby for affordable housing.
I then moved to AmicusHorizon and I'm the executive director responsible for HR, strategy, communications, co-regulation and public affairs. It's the most awesome place to work and I love how we work closely with our residents to shape services. We're about to enter into partnership with Viridian Housing and it should be a happy marriage as we have lots in common!
I feel so lucky to have fallen into housing as a career. I've met some brilliant people as a result. It'd be great if we could find a way of promoting the sector as a career of choice and aspiration. I think the CIH is central to that and as members we also have a role to play. Take some pride in housing people!
What made you want to join the London board?
To say the last few years have been interesting in housing is an understatement. We're in the middle of a housing crisis affecting every level of the market in London and the challenges for those working in the sector are enormous.
I think housing roles are changing and we now need a talent management approach to ensure we pull great people into what is a genuinely brilliant field of work. A professionalised sector which attracts and retains the best from the widest possible talent pool is a good start. Being part of that as chair of the CIH London board means I can stop talking about it and actually do something. I'd really like to see membership grow in the capital.
What do you think are the biggest issues facing CIH members in London?
The challenges are well rehearsed - from affordability and land availability through to economic uncertainty. We need to find ways to house those in most need, while finding solutions to the potential drain of talent from our globally competitive capital.
Looking on the bright side we have a new London Mayor and Deputy Mayor for Housing. We also have a new Housing Minister and Minister for London. Political pedigrees aside, I think all three are impressively pragmatic and genuinely understand the issues. I hope members in London seize any opportunities to engage with some positive debate.
What can members expect from CIH in London now you are chair?
I went to our first board planning session earlier this week as chair. The board has a fantastic mix of experienced members who really know the ropes and new members who are already contributing some amazing ideas. It was a real buzz. So members should expect some great opportunities to be involved - either in person at events or through social media. The board and I will be working hard to tell you why membership is a good idea during a time of change and challenge and, just maybe, we'll include a little fun along the way! Oh, and I'll also talk about leadership and diversity quite a bit.
What was the last book you read?
The truth is, I find it quite difficult to sit still and switch off. But I'm working on it. Am I alone here or do other people struggle to read one book from start to finish? I do wonder if our constant swiping from one thing to another on phones and multiple platforms of information affect our ability to sit and read nicely.
In the meantime I run a lot to relax. I live by the sea so it's my favourite post-work or 'start the weekend' activity. I'm quite greedy so it balances that out reasonably well. Hopefully by now I've thrown you off the scent regarding books! I'll take one on holiday, though. Drop the CIH London board a tweet if you have a recommendation for me!
What is your favourite non-housing-related thing to do in London?
Anything food-related. London is a big world pantry to me. You can eat anywhere in the world practically in one city and that's a real thrill. My work base is Croydon and the market there is great. If I can I'll pop across on a Friday lunchtime to stock up. If I'm anywhere near Borough market for a meeting I usually end up with a bag full of cheese...