Getting to know: Matt Kennedy
Matt Kennedy joins CIH Cymru as our new policy manager this week. We asked him a few getting-to-know-you questions to mark the occasion.
Hi Matt, tell us a little bit about you and your housing career so far
Well it all started for me at Gwalia, as a Graduate Management Trainee where I undertook a number of placements in various departments. But it’s fair to say, my passion for the work of the housing sector grew and was shaped enormously during that time. Going through tenancy agreements and handing over keys to properties that for many on the receiving end was about so much more than a new home, are memories which for all the right reasons stick with me.
I sharpened my policy teeth (so to speak) by moving to Community Housing Cymru, working as their policy officer focussing on care, support and health. The Supporting People programme, homelessness, and raising awareness of housing’s contribution to health and social care were my bread and butter .
I’ve been away from housing for 18months or so working with the excellent crew at Macmillan Cancer Support focussing on working closely with all political parties ahead of the Welsh Assembly elections to highlight the changes needed to improve the experiences of cancer patients in Wales. Although the subject-matter was obviously world’s away, the parallels in the approaches in providing sustainable, person-centred solutions to delivering services resonates with that applied across much of the housing sector in Wales.
Sounds like you’ve had quite a bit of experience in public affairs – what’s the plan for influencing Welsh policy?
It an exciting time in Welsh politics, whether you love it or hate it there’s been a fair bit of grit about recent goings-on in and out of the Senedd. As things settle down however and the programme for government is announced I’m looking forward to representing members in ensuring the challenges being faced locally are heard and understood clearly by those in a position to implement change, or scrutinise policy.
I believe it’s always important to “bring things to life” when it comes to demonstrating what policy means in practice. I want a vibrant dialogue with members to feed this reality check whilst also allowing AMs and others to directly experience what’s working well, and what isn’t on their own doorstep.
Speaking of the membership, have you got any plans about what they can expect from the policy team?
It’s obviously a challenging time for the housing sector in Wales, with the aftermath of legislative changes still being felt and more in the pipeline as we enter the fifth Assembly. So from the policy team there will be briefings and regular practice updates to support members to keep pace with the changes happening in the sector, in addition to our programme of events, which will continue to provide timely, forward-thinking sessions supporting development and innovation.
You’re starting just as we begin to plan for TAI 2017, what would be the ideal session you’d like to see on the programme?
Tim Peake. Need I say more? I probably should, maybe aim my sights on something more realistic. I’ve always been a fan of looking at sectors completely alien to each other, but nonetheless share a certain commonality. A great example was when the Williams F1 team used their pit-stop skills to help the neonatal team at University Hospital of Wales improve their team work, processes and efficiency. I’d love to see this kind of thing feature during TAI 2017.