Thank you to all our friends…


    Thank you to all our friends…

    …for helping us to Lead the Change at HDN’s Autumn Conference!

    What a day we had at the Clayton Hotel in Birmingham on Monday, a great venue, excellent facilities and a tasty lunch. These resources helped to make the day run smoothly and let us enjoy the conference in comfort; but friends…what really makes an event special is the people; and it is in that regard we reached for the stars.

    Speakers and delegates alike shared words of wisdom and passion, with acute focus and endless optimism, and fun never far away. Our afternoon key note speaker Lara Oyedele got us on our feet as the room was filled with the sound of McFadden and Whitehead’s classic, ‘Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now’; and you know what, that’s what Lara made us truly believe. The incoming Vice President of the CIH implored us all to be agents of change much like activists Olive Morris, Winnie Mandela and boxer Nicola Adams; and, with her mantra that ‘life is good’ running through her talk, Lara told us that getting older is a good thing. It is all part of necessary change and, ‘if you’re hair is going grey it means you’re not dead!’

    Our morning key-note speech was delivered with candid openness by Andy George, the President of the Black Police Association, as he told of his experiences of racism, growing up in Northern Ireland, and then his career in the police force. Andy recounted how the Ulster Constabulary was dominated by Protestants at the height of the Troubles and a process of positive discrimination in recruitment addressed the balance, to bring Catholics into the service. This move improved the quality of policing in an atmosphere of sectarian tension, and Andy says every industry can learn from this; and we need to look closely at our recruitment processes to make positive change in the housing sector.

    One of the most vibrant panel sessions you are ever likely to witness was brought to life by Barrington Billings, Leona Menville and Aloze Ohuonu as they each gave their razor sharp insight into the impact of Black Lives Matter in the housing sector. Aloze was subsequently tipped to be a Prime Minister, hopefully sooner rather than later!

    With a choice of break out groups during the day, delegates could choose from discussions including Creating a Diverse Board, the Power of Mentoring, EDI and the Social Housing White Paper and Housing for LGBTQ+. In his breakout group, Challenging Islamophobia, Kaushar Tar said ‘if you want to challenge Islamophobia you need to know about Islam’ and he showed just how little the mainstream media knows…or chooses to know. Bad news sells papers, and Kaushar said that every time there was a terrorist incident, Muslims around the world say, ‘oh no…not again.’

    Kaushar bigs up Britain and says that we are a more tolerant society than most other countries. On the subject of Black Lives Matter Andy says our police force is not like the US police force. But everyone agrees that we can, and must, get better.

    So let’s round up where we started and, as Lara says, ‘life is good’, and we can all be agents of change. 

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