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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: Ross Edwards


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. Ross Edwards from Freebridge Community Housing is first up.

I joined Freebridge Community Housing in August 2010, just two days after finishing at sixth form college.

My first position was in the property services team as an administrator with the idea of expanding my knowledge of property repairs. I have always been a keen learner and Freebridge offered me the opportunity to work in several areas of the business, therefore I completed placements in the first contact centre, lettings, housing and tenancy.

I have always been passionate about the role of community in housing and the way in which people, place and property link together and have a real influence. Alongside my role at Freebridge I volunteer as a special constable for Norfolk Constabulary. The five years spent working for Norfolk Constabulary have given me a real insight into my local community, helping me develop a wider understanding of the social issues that are present across West Norfolk.

Combining the experience gained from Norfolk Constabulary and Freebridge, I was attracted towards a role that would allowed have to positive impact on the lives of tenants and the wider public.

I completed a six-month secondment at Providence Street Community Centre overseeing the work to turn a struggling community centre with two service users into what is now a thriving community building.

I completed qualifications in leadership, management and housing practices before becoming the PlaceShaping Team Leader at the end of my secondment and then PlaceShaping manager the following year. Continuing my work with Norfolk Constabulary, I achieved the rank of Special Sergeant allowing me to have a greater impact on local operations.

The success at Providence Street Community Centre encouraged Freebridge to purchase another community centre in North Lynn. Key to the success of the new centre will be the consultation with local partners, charities and local residents to create an approach that encourages working together for the community.

I have already worked on setting up two consultation events. The first event being where I can meet with potential partners and the second being an open invitation to the local residents. These events are designed to encourage organisations and the community work together to create positive activities for the local community.

Over the next few months my role will be widening in responsibility. I will be able to take a more strategic view in how we approach placeshaping on our estates. I will be aiming to ensure the teams work closer together, therefore giving us better value for money. This will free up resource to support more community initiatives.

My personal development mt Freebridge has always and will continue to be linked to the responsibility that we have as a social landlord to improve the lives and communities of people living in West Norfolk.

Through being a Rising Star I will have the opportunity to network with others from different organisations who have experience of different communities, successes and challenges. This will allow me to further broaden my knowledge of the housing sector, whilst creating links and providing opportunities for working together with others.

Throughout my career I have always looked to take on new ideas and share experiences with others. As a mentor on the HDN programme I share my knowledge with individuals from other housing associations. I have also been given the chance to learn about the workings of another housing association, opening my eyes to the positives that the opportunity to network and meeting peers from other areas brings.

I feel that my work in PlaceShaping and in the community has enabled me to develop a unique view on the role and significance of social housing. By being a Rising Star I can not only develop my skills and knowledge on the sector, but also share with my peers the innovative approach that we have taken at Freebridge to our work in the community.

I believe that there is more to housing than just providing a quality home, a sense of community, access to support and social activities can create a pride in the community that encourages people to sustain tenancies and live a happier life.

I would like to use the Rising Stars competition as an opportunity to encourage other housing associations and leaders in our industry to engage more with their local area to improve the lives of their tenants and wider public.

Ross Edwards is placeshaping manager at Freebridge Community Housing and a finalist in CIH Rising Stars 2018.

  • Find out more about Ross and how to cast your vote here

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