24 Nov 2020

The Big Conversation

People discussing their blog posts

“... And then we found a monkey hanging from the ceiling!” With my Grandad having worked as a Maintenance Officer, I grew up hearing all kinds of stories about the weird and wonderful world of housing. Coupled with the fact that my Mum worked for a Co-Housing trust, it is maybe not a surprise that I have also found myself within the sector.

It has been just over a year since I began as a Graduate Housing Trainee at Kingdom Housing Association; and I have certainly not looked back. Without wanting to focus on “C, who shall not be named”, working through the pandemic has allowed me to realise very quickly how valuable - and varied - a career in housing can be. It is for these reasons that I look forward to hearing about other young professionals' experiences at The Big Conversation.

While I have a very supportive employer and colleagues, it would be great to use the event as a platform to establish a network of peers who are in a similar position to myself. A group where we can share ideas, experiences and ask those ‘silly’ questions that we might otherwise be hesitant to. After all, in order to achieve the common goal of making a positive difference to the lives of tenants and customers, it is important that we learn from one another.

I am grateful that Kingdom has allowed me to spend the last six months working on some exciting projects with our Tenant Participation Officer. While I definitely did not envision that my role would involve training eighty-something year olds how to master Zoom or organising mindfulness courses and virtual coffee mornings to help tenants deal with the anxieties that a pandemic inevitably brings, it has been moments like these that have taught me how rewarding this career can be. With my interest in tenant participation in mind, it’s of no surprise that I am particularly looking forward to attending “The New Approaches” session at The Big Conversation. Especially as it provides the opportunity to learn about customer engagement from a tenant’s perspective; something that will be vitally important if we are to use the challenges of 2020 to channel positive changes to service delivery going forward.

The last year has also taught me the importance of housing providers utilising their unique positions to become community anchor organisations. Coupled with the facts that the pandemic has reinvigorated community spirit and affirmed the importance of protecting our physical and mental health, it will be interesting to hear about the role we - as housing practitioners - could play in realising Dr. Katherine Trebeck’s vision of a wellbeing economy. Isabel Nuesse, who works with Katherine at the Wellbeing Economy Alliance, has recently written, “a wellbeing economy envisions community-owned, eco-friendly housing as a potential solution to ensure that everyone has access to safe and affordable housing.” So, is this something that we should all be trying to strive towards? Is it viable? I don’t know, but that’s why I want to get involved in this discussion and more at The Big Conversation.

The Big Conversation is happening online on Thursday 3rd December. To find out more and book your place click here.

Eilidh MacDonald is employed as a Graduate Housing Trainee at Kingdom Housing Association and is currently undertaking work experience with CIH Scotland.