Hello, I thought it that writing a short blog might be the best way to share with you what I’ve been up to. Its been a bit of a whirlwind – trying to learn so much, figure out where all the information is, talking to lots of great people and getting stuck into the ambitious work programme. There certainly is plenty to fill a year with!
My first week was just crammed learning going through the UKCN website and group links, files etc trying to get my head around everything cohousing; and culminated in a drive trip to Lewisham to visit Phil McGeevor, one of the Network Directors (from Cannock Mill Cohousing) to pick up all the hard copy files and documents. Phil & Rosie were very hospitable and made me a lovely lunch and invited Richard Renton along so I could meet and chat with him too.
In my second week the Building & Social Housing Foundation held a two day event in London to facilitate the potential of a Community-led Housing Alliance. This was a great opportunity to meet so many people in the community housing world and agree our commonality. There is so much potential in the alliance that could be of great benefit to members of UKCN – making achieving cohousing dreams much easier in future.
Week three included a visit to the House of Lords for tea to celebrate the birthday of Care & Repair England – another opportunity to meet lots of contacts and to promote the opportunities for involvement and partnership working on our Big Lottery Accelerating Ideas project looking at cohousing solutions for an ageing population. I also visited CDS Cooperatives new HQ near Borough to discuss more joint working.
Week four included the Housing LIN conference in London – again more meeting people but also learning about some really good examples across the Country of enabling co-production and self management by older people.
Week five included presenting to the expert housing group to the Welsh Government about cohousing and how mutual support can be one of the solutions for better ageing. Week six marked my first UKCN Board meeting, working with the Directors on how we move forward with the Network and the crowd sourced manifesto from the Conference in November.
In between these events I’ve been gradually getting to know some of our member groups and potential cohousers by responding to their queries, where I can. I’m very conscious that the resources on the website are limited and much information is sought directly from members rather than through the network. I will be working hard to make our resources and communication much more effective in future. I would really appreciate working with members as a team to achieve this – giving me feedback on what you want from the network and what you think we can do together. I have lots of ideas and these will only be better and effective with your input.
Thank you all for making me so welcome – I look forward to working with you in making cohousing much more accessible to anyone who wants to live in it. Anna