01 Sep 2022

Back to the future – reflections on housing professional membership

This summer marks 25 years of my full membership of the Chartered Institute of Housing.  My slightly faded certificate still hangs on my home study wall, reflecting the pride from the hard work it took to achieve this, my fond memories of the start of my housing career in the mid-1990s, and my continued pride for the profession.

It was the opportunity of sponsorship as a trainee housing officer advertised back in pre- internet 1994 by the newly expanding Sovereign Housing Association that took me on a journey of three years part-time post grad study at Bristol and the CIH Test of Professional Practice. Access to inspiring university lecturers and texts from the library - including the formidable Professor Peter Malpass and his seminal book, Housing Policy and Practice - along with internal and external visits to housing and benefit departments, and a Packard Bell 486 computer with modem, showed me the real benefits of both academic and practical learning, and some reliable IT equipment.  

At Golden Lane Housing, a UK housing association specialising in supported housing for people with a learning disability and autism, we are fully aware of the importance of supporting our colleagues with stimulating training to help them to personally develop and support them in facing the greater demands and complexities of their roles. There has never been a more important time for professionalism within the sector and our housing teams continue to benefit immensely from undertaking the learning and development programmes of the CIH. Methods of learning have certainly changed over the last quarter of a century but the need for sound knowledge and practical experience remain the same.

Ultimately, social housing professionalism is more than a certificate. It is about living the values of your organisation and the sector, continuing the learning journey throughout your career, and working collaboratively with your peers and colleagues to be a catalyst for positive change in social housing. CIH continues to provide that support – through training, conferences, research, publications and its important campaigning and influencing work.

The future of social housing needs skilled, dedicated, values led people, supported by a professional body that encourages real pride for those completing the professional qualifications and sets clear professional standards for members. 

Written by John Verge

John Verge is CEO of Golden Lane Housing and a fellow of CIH.