Hello my name’s Helen and I work in social housing.
Until recently this seemed akin to a confession at an anonymous peer support group. We’ve been tarnished by the pre-conception of undesirables pushing their sofas into their front gardens in the summer, drinking from cans and decorating their affordable housing with patriotic displays. In past elections the main concern of many people with regards to social housing has been its proximity and how it might devalue their nice privately owned house. And it’s true, if you have a good job and your own nice house, then you don’t need or want social housing to be part of your life.
That was until those nice houses crept further and further out of reach of the “ordinary” person. Cue all the political parties desperately scrambling to make up for lost time, throwing ever more unrealistic and ridiculous house building figures into the mix. It all smacks of too little too late and a total misunderstanding of what the sector is about. But then that’s nothing new.
Talk about the elephant in the room. It seems all to easy to claim we’re “misunderstood”, with complicated problems that are too difficult to handle. But it’s the issues of the most deprived in society we’re concerned about, and as has been demonstrated all too clearly, they just don’t disappear if you ignore them. The rug the government has been sweeping us under is starting to look decidedly lumpy.
I’m trying to remain humble as I’ve almost been guilty of the same thing myself. For six years or so I’ve had my head down delivering a back office Human Resources function. There’s been lots to do in building the service from the ground up, and there will always be more. It’s not like I’ve been unaware of what’s been happening on the front line, but now I’ve had chance to lift my head above the parapet I’ve realised why so many people are passionate about housing. Talk about the importance of linking HR and business strategy, it’s like HR squared – a powerful eye opener.
I feel like I need to apologise to my regular blog readers, who normally expect something purely HR related from my writing. But I guess the wider message here is clear. It’s about addressing problems using the talent and resources that are already at your disposal, not just in the government/housing quandary but inside businesses themselves. Sometimes HR might feel like the organisational outcasts but we need to make our voices heard. Hello…we’ve been here all along.