Lara Oyedele, Chief Executive of Odu-Dua Housing Association ,gives her views on the second day of annual conference.
Having a meeting without a meeting room somehow makes you get to the point(s) really quickly. In between listening, clapping, tweeting, applauding and asking “have you met so and so?? Do you have a business card? I managed to squeeze in 4 business meetings that were very productive. More listening, applauding, tweeting, shaking hands, air kissing, tea, collecting stationery, agreeing, disagreeing, questioning and a bit more tweeting. My day at the National Housing Federation conference which started with discussions about the bedroom tax and ended with me meeting a famous Nigerian popstar.
Sadeh Lok Housing Association say survival through people, partnership and priorities is the way to success. Gateway Housing Association insist competency, culture and curiosity is really what it takes. David Orr detests the bedroom tax. Lord German wants us to replace the word welfare with social protection. Liam Byrne MP says the current Government have lied. Labour will not or cannot “make a clear statement to scrap the bedroom tax.” Ian Simpson says Housing Associations should “stick to the knitting”. HotHouse is the forum for imagining where we’ll be in 20 years. My name is not on the list of CEO salary survey. I wonder why? Oh yes, politicians do not answer direct questions. They stick to their script.
My evening was spent at the Trident and Human City Institute at a roundtable in the new Birmingham library. The discussion centred on the role of BMENational and the rich heritage of BME housing associations. It turns out we have moved with the times and have loads to offer to both our tenants, communities and our housing associations colleagues.
Later on Ed Mayo reminds us all the housing is not just a noun. It is a verb. A very important point which I think the current government would benefit from thinking about.
Oh, I must say, the new Birmingham library is awesomely beautiful. It really proves the point that just because everyone is going in one direction (library closures) it doesn’t mean you have to too. If you understand why you do what you do and believe in what you do, then go your own way. I think this is what Mr Orr meant when he said we need to be bold and radical in order to continue to do the wonderful work that we do.
So, official conference day over, I venture to a local Nigerian restaurant to connect with my roots (and to eat). And lo and behold, there’s a famous Nigerian popstar in the house! I am rubbing shoulders with real celebrity. I get back to my room in time to catch the end of Question Time. And guess what, they are arguing about the bedroom tax. The only person in favour was the tory politician on the panel. Everyone is talking about the bedroom tax!