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

Rising Stars 2018 - the final ten: Holly Messenger


As they fight for your votes, each of our Rising Stars finalists has been asked to blog about housing and how they would use winning the competition to the benefit of the sector. Here Holly Messenger puts her case forward.

After some persuasive encouragement from the team at Wokingham Housing (WHL) this year I took the plunge and submitted my application. I hope that through doing this, 2018 will be my year to shine as the CIH Rising Star. As part of this process I have to write this blog piece and so here I am, starting with what becoming the Rising Star will mean for me.

I want to:

See beyond bricks and mortar. I currently work in the development side of the sector but that’s only one part of this diverse industry. I also have a huge interest in the homes that ultimately provide

Housing for individuals who need it most and I continue to have an appetite to learn more about that. If I was the Rising Star I hope that I could use this opportunity to become an

Inspiration for other future Rising Stars once I had made the most of the process. What I hope to get out of this application is access to

Networking and partnership opportunities for succeeding. I still have a lot to learn but luckily for me

Every day’s a school day and being shortlisted will help progress my learning. 

I see the process of Rising Star 2018 as an amazing opportunity to raise the profile of myself and all the nominated candidates. This is important because I want to succeed in the sector beyond my current role as development manager.

When asked to consider my professional development in the year it is easier to talk about what happened last year. It was a big year for WHL and myself, I was heavily involved in the planning and eventual delivery of two flagship developments as well as five other smaller schemes. I also had some professional development highlights in the successful completion of my Level 7 Certificate of Housing and attending the CIH Brighton conference. If I was fortunate to win the Rising Star award I would look to continue this professional development through focusing on key issues. These include the Hackitt Review Paper and the recommendations that follow, the Homelessness Reduction Act, affordable housing and Universal Credit roll out and how these will affect WHL.

A big part of the Rising Star experience is the all-important networking. This is something that I have started to improve on and I have come to realise how useful and rewarding it can be. Having a network of people whether online or in person to discuss important topics allows me to be the best at my job for current and future tenants who are ultimately at the receiving end of the professional decisions I make.

I finally joined Twitter at the end of last year and have discovered how supportive people in housing are and how willing people are to share ideas. I am trying to actively become a part of the housing twitter world. If I am named Rising Star 2018 I will shine by continuing to explore networking and sharing my genuine passion for housing with those I meet and perhaps one day through the opportunities this award will give me I can return the favour to new individuals coming into the sector.

What this award will do is open doors to peers and leaders in the industry and this presents a fantastic opportunity to share best practice and learn important industry lessons. I was fortunate to sit at the same table as Terrie Alafat, chief executive of CIH, at a CIH leader’s lunch in Brighton this year listening to her discuss issues with those at my table. I found this really inspiring and I want to work towards becoming someone who inspires others in housing, appreciating the positive contribution you can make through working in this sector.

Collaborative and partnership working can be vital tools in delivering truly affordable housing and services for those who need it. Meeting peers and leaders outside of WHL and maintaining these relationships is an important part of ensuring the delivery to the tenants of what they want and need.

I really appreciate being shortlisted for Rising Star 2018 and the opportunity this affords to raise my profile in the sector.

Holly Messenger is development manager at Wokingham Housing and a 2018 Rising Stars finalist

  • Find out more about Holly and how you can cast your vote here

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