What a week we have had, full of insightful contributions, announcements and narration! It almost feels unfair to try and pick out some of our best bits but here goes. From hitting the ground running, Monday began with a fantastic discussion around the current and future political climate and, more specifically for our sector, the conclusions from the latest research from Savills and Social Housing – a recording of the findings can be viewed on the Virtual Hub from Monday (along with all other recordings). Monday also saw contributions from the Regulator of Social Housing, the housing minister, shadow secretary of state for housing and indomitable Dave Snowden helping us try to make sense of complexity. "Everybody should have access to a home that meets their needs and they can afford’"- so much achieved but so much to do - well said @GavinSmartCIH.
Tuesday saw part of our international contingent discuss homelessness and affordable housing with Finland’s Housing First programme taking centre stage and the World Economic Forum sharing more of the detail of their global cities report on affordability.
On Wednesday with a mix of key practitioner content including the launch of the MIND/CIH mental health toolkit, speech and right to reply by the minister for welfare delivery and finishing up the day with an excellent tenant voice session chaired by Martin Hilditch, editor, Inside Housing, plus the announcement of an additional £30 million of funding to help unlock land for new homes.
"At times like these we need you. We need you to get building." said @RobertJenrick on Thursday morning whilst announcing the opening of bids for nearly £7.5bn of investment in affordable homes, just part of a huge day for conference sessions – healthy homes and ageing, our economic commentators, the challenges for housing and netzero and a fantastic session on tackling stigma with great speeches from the See the Person campaign.
And finally, inspirational presentations from Rob Stephenson focusing on his mental health journey and how leaders can encourage staff to share their stories and a closing call to action from CIH president, Aileen Evans.
Highlights from the Future of Living stage included MHCLG’s chief planner Joanna Averley’s inaugural speech on the planning white paper and the Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham on raising the bar on housing quality.
Meanwhile, we kicked off the TECH@Housing stage with futurologist Dr Nicola Millard sharing her research on workplace evolution. We wrapped up the week with a panel including FutureGov and the Open Data Institute on digital innovation and collaboration to accelerate the COVID recovery.
We were also delighted to host a number of international speakers on our Fringe programme. Speakers from Denmark, Austria and France shared their affordable housing models and the UN special rapporteur on housing joined us from Boston!
On Tuesday, a climate change hackathon brought together the sector to rapidly develop and shortlist innovative ideas to reduce the carbon output of homes. After hundreds of votes, the winning idea was a ’fabric first’ approach to retrofit and working with local colleges to equip people with retrofitting training.
This coincided with the launch of the climate champions power list celebrating individual efforts to tackle the climate emergency in housing. Open for nominations now via homesevent.co.uk/climate-champions-power-list.
After all that, it was time for a bit of fun! In two evening socials, we hosted Housing’s first ever pet show and bake-off! Congratulations to winners Nora the Rottweiler and Victoria Dingle’s birthday cake! And congratulations go to all of our finallists and winners at our first ever virtual Housing Heroes awards. We so enjoyed seeing all of your pictures on the social wall and finished with a Smashing Heroes cocktail was the perfect end to the day!
In addition to all of the conference content, we had a full programme of sponsored Innovation Hubs and Huddles welcoming thousands of attendees to sessions and discussions covering topics of key interest including tenant engagement, building safety, digital innovation and asset management solutions.
All good things in life have to come to an end but we are pleased to announce the #virtualhousingfestival is now open to all for a further 4 weeks free of charge - from Monday 14 September to the 9 October - continuing to unite the housing world under one roof. Visit the showfloor, watch all the live streams on demand, catch up with the social wall and share the best bits with your teams. Just remember that we are no longer all there to interact live but rest assured any messages you leave can still be picked up by all those involved!
For anyone with a login from the Virtual Hub please just use that and for all new festival goers it just takes two mins to fill in your details and then it is all yours, go to: housingevent.co.uk. Enjoy, learn, discover as we rebuild together!