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4 February 2021

Marina shares insights into driving positive change in the housing sector

Senior figures across the social housing sector have joined together to discuss some of the biggest challenges facing housing associations in the UK.

Emphasising the need for collective action, Norse Consulting Senior Director, Marina Robertson, delivered an insightful roundtable session focusing on positive ways of improving governance, helping to drive best practice throughout the industry.

The session – which took place at the National Housing Federation (NHF) Board Excellence in Housing Virtual Conference 2021 – also honed in on the importance of remaining relevant and in touch with the people housing associations serve.

Housing associations, which are not-for-profit organisations, support local communities across the country, providing social housing and affordable homes to buy and rent.

Building and tenant safety, improving services, addressing sustainability, increasing the supply of new homes and building positive engagement with tenants have all been identified as key challenges which housing associations continue to face.

However, to effectively deliver on these points, it is critical to have the right strategic structure in place, with the main themes of the session touching on:

  • How has the role of the board evolved in a changing environment?
  • Board composition: Skills, diversity and new voices
  • How do you run an organisation that is representative of and responsive to the communities you serve?

Marina – who is also Vice Chair of Waltham Forest Housing Association, which provides homes in the London Borough of Waltham Forest – highlighted that being open to feedback and new ideas is a critical aspect of developing a positive board culture, helping to foster a strong sense of common purpose.

She said: “A key challenge for boards across the commercial and social sector is remaining relevant and in touch with the people we serve.

“A growth mindset is essential in relation to reaching out to others whether it is the local communities or partnerships.

“These can help access resources but also financial, governance and development skills, especially for those smaller associations that cannot afford to enter this skills marketplace.”

The session also explored topics including digital challenges, the dynamics of board composition and the importance of tenants’ voices.

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