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The Chartered Institute of Housing is the independent voice for housing and the home of professional standards

CIH fellowship - sending a clear message you care about professionalism to the people you serve


In this week's guest blog, Ashfield District Council director of housing and assets and deputy chief executive Paul Parkinson FCIH describes his fellowship journey.

Soon after achieving chartered membership seven years ago, I began to think about fellowship as the logical next step. Something always came up, or there was other work to do, but my goal of becoming a fellow of CIH never went away.

I had this reoccurring thought: while I receive no end of personal development in this, that and the other, none of this ever quite addresses how qualified am I do my job. You know; the part of my job that says I work in social housing and make some quite major decisions which potentially affect people’s lives and communities? 

Spin that round in our customer-centric sector: when it comes to day-to-day decisions, would the people affected be more comforted by knowing how many units I manage, how many homes I build and/or whether my management style is purple, or rather that I am a fully qualified housing professional? 

You cannot escape the irony that no matter how much we talk about resident involvement, the green paper and housing standards, many overlook the importance of professionalism in housing and the need for us to demonstrate that as a sector we are like every other chartered profession, with a professional set of standard and ethics, that can be relied on and respected to make the right decisions and achieve the right outcomes.

There’s nothing wrong with shouting about how many houses your company is building, and there is certainly nothing wrong with personal development in any shape or form, but in the end when you are dealing with that individual tenant or customer, ask yourself: “What is the ultimate piece of assurance I can give them in terms of my personal credibility?”

So what changed for me? I was reminded that I am coming up for my third anniversary in my role at Ashfield. In that time I had made some of the most impactful decisions in my housing career, but yet had made no advancement on my own personal credentials as a housing professional.

Grasping the nettle, I set aside some time to make the application and then to my delight found that it was actually a far easier process than I remembered.

The starting point is no more than 1,000 words on an application form – that’s like two sides of A4, like a report you wouldn’t think twice about writing - and with the initial time set aside vastly over-estimated, I just needed to find two nice people to do me a reference and next think you know, Bob’s your fellow uncle !

In the end it was a relatively small commitment of my time, but I think it sends out exactly the right message from our organisation to our customer base that we care about professionalism in housing and we take our role in the community seriously. Even if it is only for your own personal accomplishment or another string to your bow, fellowship is definitely something worth pursuing . It’s worth it just in order to carry out your day-to-day role in the knowledge you are a true housing professional.

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