National Empty Homes Week is almost upon us once again (15 to 19 October). It’s helpful that our EHN conference is taking place the same week this year and I’m really looking forward to the varied mix of workshops and speakers. I find I often come away from the conference having learned something new and with another ‘tool’ for my empty homes toolkit. It’s also great to meet up with long-term friends in the empty homes ‘world’ and to meet new ones too. You can’t beat networking and sharing best practice!
There has been a flurry of media activity on empty homes since Friday 5 October. Chris Bailey, the campaign manager for Action in Empty Homes, has appeared in two stories that demonstrate the breadth of the empty homes issue.
Dear EH Network members,
Empty Homes Week 2018 - Monday 15 October to Sunday 21 October
Empty Homes are rising again in England Government figures show that across England over 205,000 homes have been empty for more than six months, within a wider vacant dwelling category of 605,000 homes.
My question to you is this – how do you carry on with your ‘proactive’ empty homes work without a current list of empty homes? And my reply is – it’s quite tricky!
So for the past six months I’ve been without a list of empty homes. This was due to our council tax group having a new system installed followed by time taken for staff training including training on how to run off tailored reports like the ones I get.
I am just finishing my first full week as Director of Action on Empty Homes.
I come to the world of housing almost entirely new to the subject, barring my recent and ongoing involvement in the Community Plan for Holloway (see the link below).
My route here came by way of over a decade of work on criminal justice policy, where I learned prisons are full of some of the most vulnerable people in our country. Criminal justice has become a repository for people with the type of social problems we are finding it very difficult to resolve as a society.
It’s been a strange year for me so far. Half-way through January I managed to get second degree burns to my leg after knocking over a pot of coffee and it’s taken me a while to recover. I’m being really careful around boiling kettles these days…
However the advantage of being off sick and then working from home meant I have had a lot of time to think about my approach to my empty homes work for 2018.
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Shelter Scotland knows how to build variety in to their Conferences. Last year, featured a powerful session by the photographer and famously ex-punk ex-drummer ex-Mancunian John Maher. This year the artistic highlight was provided by Jackie Kay, the Scots Makar (Scotland's National Poet).
One of my favourite experiences from 2016 was last November’s Scottish Empty Homes Conference, held in Edinburgh. So I was determined to attend the 2017 event, which this year was held in Glasgow.
People make Glasgow
Back in the 1970s, when I lived in Edinburgh, Glasgow seemed rather grey and foreboding. It was a place to visit for rock concerts and football matches, but I didn’t get to know the city at all.