The first Independent East conference was held near Norwich in November 2022. More than 100 tenants, board members and staff attended from five housing associations based in Norfolk and Suffolk. The conference focused on what lies in store for social housing in 2023 and the important role of tenants.
There were keynote speeches from housing experts Hilary Burkitt, Director of Housing at IFF Research; Kathryn Eyre, Quality, Engagement & Development Director of the Housing Ombudsman; and Kate Dodsworth, Director of Consumer Regulation for the Regulator of Social Housing. The programme also included table discussions and opportunities for questions.
In their discussions, the participants focused on creative collaboration as a key solution to the challenges faced by housing associations. They discussed how these challenges might be alleviated by really listening to tenants and putting them at the heart of decisions in the difficult year(s) ahead.
I found the keynote speeches informative, positive and thought-provoking. The whole conference was uplifting and well attended by tenants. It shows a growing interest in how attitudes to social housing and engaging with our landlords are changing.
Jane, a Broadland tenant who participated
It’s important for the sector to come together and think deeply about the challenges they are facing at the moment in such unprecedented times. The takeaway from today is a real sense that everyone is up for the challenge that we’re facing. Despite the great difficulties for housing associations, for tenants, everyone is up for thinking about how they are going to address these challenges and to make sure we are doing our very best for all of our tenants.
Hilary Burkitt, Director of Housing IFF Research
The event was organised by Independent East, an informal alliance of five community‐focused housing associations in the East of England – Broadland Housing, Freebridge Community Housing, Havebury Housing Partnership, Saffron Housing Trust, and Orwell Housing Association.
Independent East will continue to work collaboratively together and with tenants to address common issues, sharing ideas and best practice to continually improve services and better the lives of their customers.