It is with great pride and pleasure, that I am writing this, my first newsletter as the new support provider for the Empty Homes Network, having taken over the role as Secretary and Policy lead from David Gibbens. Whilst they are undoubtedly big shoes to fill, I am extremely excited about the prospect of building on the incredible work David has done, and to be able to support practitioners, officers and campaigners across the country in their involvement in returning empty homes to use.
Having previously worked for Peterborough City Council as their Empty Homes Officer, my background in the field takes me back beyond my professional career. Having grown up with a Grandparent who lived in a flat below, as well as next door to a long-term empty home, I experienced first-hand the effects that such properties have on someone’s livelihood and wellbeing. This developed into a third year Thesis in my final year at University, working in conjunction with Derby City Council to explore the options available to central and local government to tackle what is a national problem.
One of my conclusions from this paper, was that whatever support, tools and options are available to both practitioners and owners, is that there is no one size fits all solution. Having worked in both urban and rural settings for local authorities, it is further evident that the differences in the way in which we address the problem requires an equally individual approach. It is my hope, that the Network will continue to support you as proactive practitioners as it has done me in the past, irrespective of location, demographic and opportunities.
My priorities for the coming weeks and months are to continue to learn the mechanisms and processes of the Network, and to ensure that the handover of the support provision is conducted thoroughly and seamlessly. As was the case with David, I want to ensure the Network is the best source of information and resource that it can be for you as practitioners.
There will however be some minor changes: The postal address for the Network will be changing, and over the coming weeks, notification will be sent to all members informing them of the new address. This will be done in conjunction with this year’s invoice run which are currently being prepared, so please do let me know if there are any changes in administration details, as well as your Purchase Order numbers if these are required as part of your invoicing procedure. Also, please don’t forget to promote our membership options and benefits to other practitioners and local authorities, and the discount this provides on attending the Conference.
Speaking of the Conference, this year’s National Empty Homes Conference with be held on Wednesday 25th September, at Maple House in Birmingham, the same venue as in previous years. Whilst planning and preparing is in its very early stages, I am hoping to secure a range of fantastic speakers for this year’s event. As with previous years, please feel free to contact me with your suggestions and ideas for sessions. More information with regards to speakers, sponsorship and booking with be made available on the website in due course, but most importantly, get the date in your diaries for now!
Finally, I would like to extend a personal thanks to David and the Executive Committee for their support and guidance throughout this process. Having spoken to a number of people recently about having taken on this supporting role for the Network, it is without doubt that the Network is held in extremely high regard within local authorities and amongst practitioners, and it is with this in mind that I am extremely proud to have been given the opportunity to support you as a practitioner, in the role that you do.
I look forward to hearing from and working with you all.
Policy Lead / Secretary
Empty Homes Network
(previously the National Association of Empty Property Practitioners)
PO Box 703, Exeter, EX1 9PX
Tel.: 03 03 04 01 008 (leave message) or direct mobile 07837 717583
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