Rising Stars 2018 - the final ten: Laura Wood
As they fight for your votes, each of our Rising Stars finalists has been asked to blog about housing and how they would use winning the competition to the benefit of the sector. Here Laura Wood puts forward her case.
I am extremely passionate about making positive changes across the sector, creating opportunities and building futures for our tenants, our communities and beyond.
I would use the opportunity to create more collaboration across the sector; bringing more people together to ensure that all of our tenants have the opportunity and the means to engage with us, giving tenants real choice and control, and delivering services that reflect the diversity of our communities.
In light of the Grenfell Tower tragedy, we need to prove that we really can listen to our tenants and that we will. As a sector, we are best placed to achieve that. This is at the heart of why I have become so heavily involved in groups outside of my organisation, at both regional and national levels, to give tenants a voice, to work together, to build on community strengths, and effect real positive change.
I am proud to represent PlaceShapers as the North East regional Communications coordinator and have had the privilege to work with some extraordinary people across the sector. Through delivering campaigns such as We Work, We Build and most recently We Care, I get to see first hand the incredible role housing associations play in creating, sustaining and shaping great places to live. But perhaps most importantly, it’s shown me just how crucial listening to our tenants really is and it ignited a passion that makes me want to do more. I would use the opportunity of Rising Star to shine a light on tenant engagement; to unite more people to help amplify tenants’ voices and work towards changing stereotypes of social housing. PlaceShapers provide a brilliant example of the power and influence we can achieve when we unite around shared values as a force for change. For me, this is at the centre of why Rising Star would mean so much to me; I would love to be able to use the opportunity to unite more people around true tenant engagement.
I have also had the great privilege of being involved in setting up the North East’s Women in Social Housing (WISH) Network. We saw the fantastic work WISH were doing across the country to promote diversity, challenge stereotypes, address career progression, and much more, and we wanted to build on this in the North East. I’m lucky to work alongside some truly inspirational women, both within my own organisation and through external networks like PlaceShapers and WISH, including some incredible women in leadership roles. I would love to use the Rising Star opportunity to become a role model for young women in the sector, to encourage more young women to choose careers in housing, and to inspire future leaders in the same way the women I have worked with have inspired me.
I would be really keen to network with more future leaders, to work on planning for the future differently, looking at the big social challenges we face and collaborating more across the sector to tackle them. I would also draw on the experience and wealth of knowledge from past and current leaders, both within and outside of the sector. I think it's vital to take lessons from outside the sector too because it helps make us more resilient, provides opportunities to generate fresh, innovative and dynamic ideas and gives us the chance to work more creatively and flexibly.
A great deal of the work I have done so far in my housing career has been regionally focused. This is also why becoming Rising Star would be such a significant opportunity. I want to have the influence and the opportunity to make huge leaps forward for the sector and to do everything I can to help improve lives and communities across the country. To recognise that different solutions are needed for different places – there isn’t one housing market or even one housing crisis, there are many, all across the country and all materialising in different ways. But the one thing that remains the same is that we are best placed to help. And our tenants are best placed to tell us how.
Laura Wood is group lead for PR and communications at North Star and a 2018 Rising Stars finalist
- Find out more about Laura and how to cast your vote here