It was a real privilege to be elected to Chair the Northern Housing Consortium in November 2015. I knew I had a tough act to follow as John Craggs had been an outstanding Chair.
I have been involved with the NHC for quite some time and am more inspired than ever by our members. One of the great parts of this role is the opportunity I get to meet and listen to our members and hear the great things that they are doing. I am extremely keen to raise the profile of the work that our members do and ensure Government and stakeholders see the North as an exemplar of innovation and desire to deliver. Whilst the dialogue with Government is important, I am also passionate about connecting our members with each other so they can share ideas and develop new products and solutions.
The NHC exists to serve its members. We all know that these are changing times – from devolution and the future of the Northern Powerhouse, to the implications arising from the nation’s decision to leave the EU. As a membership organisation, it is essential that we are alert to the changing environment and are agile and flexible in responding to our members’ needs. I know that Jo is absolutely committed to ensuring the NHC remains not only fit for purpose but fit for the future. I’d also like to thank Jo for her support during my first year as Chair.
Over the past year I’ve been Chair of the Commission for Housing in the North – supported by the NHC. The Commission will launch its report in November 2016, setting out a vision for Housing in the North. Throughout the life of the Commission we’ve engaged with NHC members and taken evidence from a range of stakeholders and partners which has been invigorating and insightful. I would very much like to thank my distinguished fellow Commissioners for the time, commitment and expertise they have shared with us over the last year (and also for their patience in tolerating me!). The blend of their skills and diverse backgrounds – all united by a desire to shape the best future for housing in the north – has, I believe, added immeasurably to the outputs of the Commission and I do hope they remain connected with the NHC even after the Commission’s work is formally over.
Finally, I want to thank the rest of the NHC Board for their support over the past year. The contribution they make to the NHC is very much appreciated and valued enormously. I am delighted that Michael Laing is remaining on the Board as a co-optee as he moves into a new career in the health sector and no doubt his on-going contribution will be a huge asset in helping us better join up housing and health. I’d also like to thank Cath Green for her time on the Board as she steps down this year. Her drive and passion for housing in the North is rightly renowned and I am very grateful for her continued commitment to act as a champion for and with the NHC (which I hope will be a role that we can develop in the future).
So, a year has passed since chairing my first NHC Board meeting and while I do not underestimate the challenges facing the sector, I remain as enthusiastic as ever and inspired by our members. The North is a beacon of innovation ready to do business.