A Day in the Life Of…A Co-operative Housing Advisor

As part of the Co-Operative Housing Twitter takeover day, I wanted to give everyone an insight into the average day of a Project Advisor.

9am. Arrive in the office after battling Monday morning traffic on the M4. Lots of chatter in the office and discussions about weekend adventures. Time to catch up on emails, mainly meeting arrangements for the week ahead, event invitations, Twitter highlights and updates from the project manager. David Palmer’s commitment to the project and co-op movement never ceases to amaze me!

10am. An enquiry form pops up in the co-operative housing inbox. It’s from a group in Ceredigion who want to develop low impact, affordable housing and local enterprise opportunities for themselves and for the wider community. These types of enquiries are becoming more and more familiar. Communities in more rural part of Wales are bringing democracy home and starting to invest in their local areas. Through system stewardship, community groups are taking action and developing alternative solutions to their housing, employment and health care needs.

11am. Time to meet with a registered social landlord (RSL) to explore the potential of developing co-operative housing. As a stock transfer organisation they have a large number of properties and an ambitious development plan to contribute to the 20,000 affordable home target set by the Welsh Government. Lots of scope to include co-operative homes! There are many benefits of RSL developing co-operative homes, including, lower rent arrears, fewer voids, scarcer ASB incidents and more resilient, cohesive communities formed. The RSL have lots of questions and have never done anything like this before, which is often the case with a lot of organisations that we work with. Keep an eye out for my next blog where I hope to challenge the common misconceptions around community led housing. Time for some lunch!

2pm. A quick team catch up with the Communities Director. What’s been happening over the last couple of weeks? What do we have coming up? Any potential leads? Are we on budget? Are our funders happy with us? Are we meeting on targets?

Lots of action out of this meeting, but the project is on track to meet all of its targets.

4pm. Before we head to this evening’s session, I enter the Centre’s very own Aladdin’s Cave i.e. the marketing cupboard. I need our co-operative housing marketing material to take to a conference tomorrow; banners, leaflets, brochures and maybe a few goodies too. We’re exhibiting at the TPAS annual conference, so lots of opportunity to talk to RSL and local authority tenants about co-operative housing, which truly does give residents a voice and control over their homes and the wider community.

6pm. Heading to a shortlisting session for one of our schemes. We’re working with an RSL to provide six co-operative single person flats and tonight will be shortlisting the final residents. There were over 300 people on the local housing waiting list with 80 showing an interest in these particular homes. After a number of meetings to narrow down the number, there were sixteen potential residents. The workshop is an opportunity for us and partners to get to know the residents and understand how they would work together in this co-operative scheme. It’s also an opportunity for the potential residents to share some of their ideas about how they would like the scheme to be run, and contribute to the design of the outdoor spare. With so much interest and everyone on the list in housing need, it’s an incredibly difficult job to choose those who get a home and those who missed out this time. I really don’t envy those doing this on a daily basis in housing associations and local authorities. Each and every one of them could have been eligible, but eventually we have our six co-operators. We’ll be working with them over the next couple of months to help them develop as a tenant management organisation, giving them ownership and control over their home and wider community.

Time to head home after a busy day. Early night tonight, ready for the TPAS conference in Llandrindod Wells tomorrow, it’s becoming like a second home to me!

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