‘Future Fortresses’ or ‘Chocolate Teapots’? A graduate perspective on 2015-18 Housing Grant Allocations.

Interesting blog – do we build the houses we want, or the ones data/policy says we need..

The Shelter From All Storms

‘Home is Where the Heart Is’

As I wrote in my Masters dissertation back in 2010, a home has many meanings within its philosophy. It is a ‘castle’, ‘where the heart is ‘ and to the more extreme extent; ‘the spatial unit that secures all feelings of coping’. (If you are wondering about that last one, it is from the ontological Mac Daddy of housing himself: Peter Saunders).

Although the home is an integral factor to living (a la Maslow’s Hierarchy Of Needs) I see it a little differently in practice. I feel that I am actually living the ideas contained within Ron Bailey’s seminal work “The Homeless and the Empty Houses”. Not only have I seen first hand entrenched homelessness within higher demand areas, I have seen through my favoured domain (yes, national statistics), bedroom tax is disabling tenants to afford to live in currently available accommodation…that…

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Don’t Mention Social Housing


When I retired from full time work 2 years ago. I told everyone that I planned to go quietly and not hang around at Conferences like a bad smell. I have seen too many in the housing sector do this. One of the saddest sights I ever saw was in the Palace of Westminster late one evening when I encountered Harold Wilson wondering around like a lost soul.
So why am I here today? The answer is simple. I became angry. I became angry at the demonization of the poor especially those that live in social housing. I became angry at the demolition of the welfare state which had provided my home my health and my education. And I became angry at what I have described as the slow death of social housing and the lack of response from our leaders to speak out on its behalf.
This strange silence…

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Watching From The Touchline

Beautiful words from Tim Murtha…


It is not a memory it is a photo of a memory. Sometimes they are the same thing as one triggers the other. It is Christmas morning 1954 and I am proudly driving a toy tractor along the path in front of our council house on Bonney Road in Leicester. There is a frown on my face and I do not look happy. Maybe I have already travelled too far from the safety of home. I had no reason to be worried. There in the corner of the photo looking out of the front door is my Mam. Watching from the touchline.

Some years later there she is again standing on the touchline watching me play football. My Mam came to all of our home games and to the important away fixtures. I knew that if I ever looked up from the game she would be there watching me. It…

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Making a meal of being angry

#UKhousingfast gets the Simplicity seal of approval! He eats his words!


A guest blog from Rob Gurshon (@Simplicitly)

Everyone should read Michala Rudman’s (@MichalaRudman) take on #UKHousingFast. http://ukhousingfast.wordpress.com/2014/07/07/do-all-the-good-you-can-by-all-the-means-you-can/

I joked with Michala on twitter about it being such a good piece that I’d give up writing myself because I can’t hope to produce anything that covers #UKHousingFast as comprehensively.  Facing the prospect of offering a few words myself, I still feel the same way.

When I first saw a tweet about #UKHousingFast I was quite angry. This is frequently my reaction to housing-related stories these days. In the wake of welfare reforms and the toll they’re weighing on people who are often tenants of UK Housing, it seemed distasteful to me for housing staff to voluntarily fast to raise the issue of food poverty.

This is because I’m a bit of an idiot. I hadn’t realised that the scope of the fast was to allow those taking part to highlight their…

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Do all the good you can, by all the means you can…

A blog I wrote to support #ukhousingfast on 15th July – please get involved!


Guest blog by Michala Rudman (@MichalaRudman)

When I was asked to support the #UKHousingFast campaign I did not hesitate to say yes. Born out of a conversation on Twitter (like all the best campaigns!) it was the brainchild of UK Housing colleagues observing the month of Ramadan. The idea was simple, but really effective – fast on 15th July to show your support and raise awareness or money for a charity of your choice.

“Do all the good you can,

By all the means you can,

In all the ways you can,

In all the places you can,

At all the times you can,

To all the people you can,

As long as ever you can.”

John Wesley

I think sometimes people give themselves and others an unduly hard time when it comes to doing good – you think your contribution is perhaps only a small step towards solving…

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The Great Leap, and/or Stumble, Forward

Damning indictment of UK housing at the moment that an idea so obvious, basic and natural has to be held up as a shining example? OF COURSE we need to get the experts in to do what the experts are expert in… I hope more people start to think like Neil as I like working with people with as passion and focus. Poor Jancye isn’t an IT expert, neither am I,so why expect her to solve the sectors issues and innovate new ideas around IT systems? I do believe operational staff MUST feed into IT systems, as there’s nothing worse than something being delivered fully formed having been designed purely from an IT bells and whistles stand point. But Let Jancye be good at what she does, the IT bods do what they do and people like Neil can carry on with the blogs, and filling up the swear jar..

The Housing Blog

If housing was given its end of year report there is one area that would, consistently, get a ‘must try harder’ mark, IT.  However, a bit like the overweight kid secretly helping themselves to extra pie in the small hours, we are in serious denial as a sector, both about where we are in terms of using IT, and where we should be.

At the moment I am back at the hotel du Mom ‘n’ Pops (cheers sodding expensive to live in Britain) but I had, until the back end of last year, been away from the nest for the better part of a 7 years.  During this period a substantial amount of changes to the way in which I paid my bills, did my banking or even ordered my beloved pizza happened. All can now be done without phoning anyone or even turning on my PC (yes I have…

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What do Power Lists say about who really has power?

Jules Birch

Love them or hate them but it’s hard to ignore them. There are lists for everything from the greatest films to the richest people and the housing world is no exception.

For the second year running, housing has two alternative lists. The Power Players Top 50 was first published by 24 Housing in 2012 and Paul Taylor compiled the Digital Power Players list in 2013. This year the magazine published both: the official list in April and the digital list in the latest (June) issue.


The lists, and the differences between them, got me thinking about power and who has it in housing. Or rather who other people think has it, since the results are inevitably influenced by the way they are compiled.

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Don’t Despair, Organise

We need to get much better at highlighting the social and economic benefits of social housing. I mean really, this should be selling itself! That it doesn’t speaks volumes about the attitude of people and the mountain of work in front of us… Want to go 5 for 5 and let me know who will win the World Cup! Great blog Neil, spot on.

The Housing Blog

So the last Parliamentary session looks like it will be bringing no surprises to the table for housing.  Right to buy and help to buy look set to continue and the HCA looks set to get hold of more public land to handover for development.  Other than that it was barely worth tuning in to see our ‘Liz read through a speech that was shorter than a lot of fairy-tales.

On the subject of tales, the sector is finally getting the notion that more personal accounts of the impact of social housing are needed in the on-going PR war against years of negative press.  Blog’s from the likes of Tom Murtha and all the others at Council Homes Chat have helped to give voice to those who have benefited from social housing.  Last week a piece of research released from the Housing Network, part of the Guardian, gave housing professionals…

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Deterrents Decried

I do understand. This blog highlights the issues I was having with the studs and the reaction to them on twitter and Facebook. Quite rightly it was met with revulsion but after a bit I did start to think that perhaps we were angry with the studs as a symptom rather than looking at the cause.perhaps because the cause is much more difficult to sort out. It’s 2014, people shouldn’t be desperate enough to need to seek shelter in doorways. We need to look beyond the studs and ask why this is still the case. Why aren’t we building enough affordable homes? Are there enough hostel places, accessible accommodation? The policy is the bad guy here,not the studs. Perhaps we would help more people if we questioned that? Great post, a lot of food for thought.

Our Castle's Strength

Anti-Homelessness studs to deter rough sleeping installed outside flats in London have prompted outcry...but the real problem isn't the studs. Anti-homelessness studs installed outside flats in London to deter rough sleeping have prompted outrage…but the studs only point to a more fundamental issue we must address.

The Story

There is a new addition to a set of privately-owned flats on Southwark Bridge Road, London – inch-long metal studs installed into an area of sheltered concrete floor outside the communal entrance. According to the residents, the studs were installed with the intention of deterring homeless people from sleeping rough in the doorway.

“There was a homeless man asleep there about six weeks ago. Then about two weeks ago all of a sudden studs were put up outside. I presume it is to deter homeless people from sleeping there.” – Resident, speaking to The Guardian newspaper.

The picture above provoked a outburst of righteous indignation on Twitter, with comparisons being drawn to metal ‘pigeon spikes’ used to deter birds from roosting in…

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Digital Leaders 100: on imposter syndrome (also, vote me!)

Im really happy to Vote for Helen, she’s doing great things on social media and I find her inspirational in how she works to make links, as you know this is the basis for everything I’m trying to do too. Also, I do agree with the weird moment you are actually nominated for something you do try to do well. its such a lovely moment To get that recognition at any stage- When people started mentioning me for the (alternative) power players I genuinely wondered why and thought they were just being sweet – although I could certainly see why the others were nominated. So, good luck to Helen, and well done to all the others on the list. Keep up the amazing work, you deserve the recognition!

Hel Reynolds - creative comms and marketing training

This is a unusual post from me that: 

a) asks you a favour (I want your vote!);

b) ponders why talented people are so modest.

dl_headera) The favour 

I’ve been added to the 2014 Digital Leaders 100 list! I’m very honoured. It’s open to a public vote and I would like you to vote for me

In my category, Local Government Official, the criteria is:

“A person who, in the last 12 months, has shown great leadership in their job in local government in championing and leading others to transform a local service, making innovative organisational changes and driving a digital by default culture when delivering their services locally.”

I’d like to think my work in Monmouthshire last year covers this – from leading a team to launch a low budget council corporate website with a difference, to championing and using social media to promote openness and democracy.

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