It’s been thirteen years since I started working at Derwent Living. Before I joined the organisation I knew nothing about housing associations and if asked what the term ‘social housing’ meant, I would have thought it was where the cool kids on campus were throwing parties every night.
During my time here, I have discovered what social housing is all about and I have seen the difference it makes to people’s lives. At the moment there is such a negative stereotype in the media of social housing, with all social housing tenants painted as “scroungers” and “layabouts” through programmes such as Benefits Street, with certain politicians reinforcing that message in the hope of winning votes. It has had a huge impact on policy and we’ve been here, on the ground, watching the detrimental effects it has had on our tenant’s live.
Working within the resident involvement team I have had the pleasure of meeting hundreds of different tenants through our various projects, activities and groups, and it has helped to shape the way I view social housing and the vital role it plays in our society. We encourage people to get involved with us in all kinds of ways, whether through joining a team like the green inspectors, resident scrutiny or mediation, or even just by asking people to come along to our Forum or resident meetings. It's important that people have a good understanding of how we run as a business and some of our activities enable tenants to gain training or experience in an area they wouldn't previously have considered, gifting them with new skills that they can apply to other aspects of their lives.
For me it’s these people and families that I have the pleasure to work with on a daily basis, that tell the real story of social housing. It’s about the people I have met over the years who have used social housing to get their lives back on track and provide a safe and stable environment for them to raise their families in. That’s the positive effect that doesn’t get shouted about enough.
And, after thirteen years of working in social housing, I can see now, more than ever before, how important it is for us to start shouting and to get our voices heard above all of the negative ones. #HousingDay #HomesForBritain