Updates from North East regional interest group meeting

Nov 8, 2019

The North East regional interest group held their second meeting on 16 October at Believe Housing’s offices in Seaham, County Durham.

The meeting was well attended and brought together people from different housing associations, big and small, across the North East. The event was chaired by Rachel Edmunds, Community Investment Manager at believe housing. Emma Leggott, the Centre’s Network Lead for the North East of England, who will become co-chair at the next meeting, spoke to us about some of its key outcomes.

What happened at the second North East regional interest group meeting?

One of the most notable points from this meeting was a presentation from Rebecca Slack, external affairs manager for the North East, on the National Housing Federation’s Great Places Commission report. Rebecca was able to share insights with the group on the commission and there were some really great recommendations in there. The group were excited about how those could help form some of the its next steps.

At this meeting we also ratified the terms of reference. One of the terms was around exploring potential opportunities for collaboration including joint funding, joint delivery bids, collaborative research and other opportunities to enable community investment. As a group we had engaged discussions about how, in practice, we can bring those terms to fruition. For that reason, the NHF commission presentation was really useful as its recommendations provide a thread for how we make sure that we do the things we set out to do in our meetings.

What other things were discussed at the meeting?

A delegate from believe housing talked about the work they’d been doing on employment and training, particularly relating to people on zero hours contracts and low hours. They had a specific project worker who was employed to engage with those people and look at how they could get more hours or more stable employment. Another highlight was Beyond Housing’s Community Connectors attending the meeting for the first time. They talked about community cinemas and other projects bringing hope and empowerment back into local communities and introduced the group to the Housing Associations’ Youth Network.

What’s the plan going forward?

Community investment in youth services is the focus for a lot of people going forward. Many housing associations now fill that gap left behind by the loss of youth services once provided by local authorities, so there was talk about what role we can play in regard to that, and of how best to attract community investment. There was a real sense of potential, that together we could better support each other in this aim.

As a group we also want to make sure that we fulfil the terms of reference setting out what we want to achieve and so moving forward we’re excited about how we can best establish those foundational relationships as a team, build trust and know what we’re working towards together.

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