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

It’s called the Fringe, but the ideas are anything but


We chatted to Evie Copland, CIH Scotland board member and chair of Scotland’s Housing Festival Fringe, about the radical conference within a conference at Housing Festival. CIH Scotland’s Housing Festival Fringe takes exciting ideas and main stage speakers, and brings them to an intimate space where the formalities of conference presenting are put to one side in favour of discussion and debate.

Delegates sit in the Fringe tent at Housing Festival 2017Evie, you chaired the Fringe last year, tell us a little bit about what it’s like as a part of the bigger conference

The Fringe brought something completely new to the table – for the first time, we had this super chilled out space that brought loads of additional value to coming to the Housing Festival. It’s the best of both worlds, we were able to borrow main stage speakers for a quick catch up, plus throw around some new ideas with people who wouldn’t usually get a look in at the bigger sessions. The best thing about it is it’s an event for everyone – customers, frontline staff and execs, there was something for everyone! This year is no different!

Is it fair to say that, despite the name, the ideas that get talked about at the Fringe aren’t really fringe at all? Looking at some of the sessions last year, it seems like talking leadership with a knight of the realm is pretty mainstream!

Totally! All our discussions were about big housing issues that people were facing every day. We carefully selected some fantastic speakers to start conversations that would bring real value for tenants and customers to take back to landlords, and staff ideas to action back at the ranch. The difference is, the Fringe is incredibly intimate, you can come and go or get cosied in for a day of great ideas. We even give the chance to come and pitch a slot – so the wee diamonds hiding in organisations up and down the country have an opportunity to come and do their thing. It’s a fantastic corner of the festival and definitely one not to miss!

This year’s big theme is The Next Big Thing – do you think the Fringe is exactly the sort of place where ideas and people that become the next big thing might germinate?

Perhaps – but just because something is sector trendy, doesn’t always necessarily mean it’s the biggest issue affecting you/your organisation. The Fringe is a great space to explore new ideas and how amazing would it be if the next big thing did kick off there! But really the Fringe is about both adding value for colleagues facing evermore challenging situations at work every day but also offering a quality, affordable entrance to the biggest and best event in the Scottish calendar! It’s too good to miss!

The Fringe is free to CIH members – you’ve always been pretty vocal about how important it is to grab opportunities with both hands, what advice would you give members who are weighing up whether to join us at the Fringe?

I am so, so passionate about helping people make the most of their CIH membership – free access to the Fringe is one of the best benefits you’ll get as a CIH member in Scotland. Kick start some great plans for 2018, connect with some of the sectors brightest and best people and you’ll be part of something incredible at the Housing Festival 2018. I’ll see you there!

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