27 Sep 2023

Spotlight - Meet our members: Ruth Buchanan

Discover more about the members of CIH Futures Northern Ireland. Today, we're sitting down with Ruth Buchanan, business development director, Rural Housing Association.

How did you start your career in housing?

I have always had a passion for helping people, and since leaving university in 2008 I have predominantly worked in the community sector with a large proportion of my time spent in peacebuilding and community development, prior to entering the housing sector. For me the move to housing was a natural progression, with my first role in housing being focused on the development of shared neighbourhoods, which is an important step towards lasting peace in Northern Ireland. This housing role gave me an opportunity to use some of my previous skills I had acquired in peacebuilding projects, but it also gave me the opportunity to develop a more extensive knowledge of the housing sector and the important role it plays in developing sustainable communities.

What do you love about your job?

I love getting out and about and meeting our tenants, a large part of my role focuses on tenant participation and Housing for All, shared neighbourhoods, as a result I get to spend a lot of time in rural communities, meeting with tenants and encouraging them to get involved in shaping the services we deliver.

I also enjoy seeing the impact housing has on our tenants’ lives, often people have faced challenging circumstances before being allocated a Rural Housing home and the difference this home can have on their lives is enormous. A secure home is one of the most important things in a person’s life, and to work in a sector which focuses on increasing the number of social homes available for the most in need, makes you feel like your job is having a positive impact.

What has been your most memorable experience working in housing and why was it so special?

For me the most memorable experience of working in housing was the development of Rural’s first Housing for All, shared neighbourhood. I remember the day the tenants first moved in, and no one knew their neighbours, but all the tenants were so excited to get the keys to their brand-new home.

Over the coming months, we worked with tenants to run community events within the scheme, and as the months progressed you saw the impact these community events had, as tenants developed a sense of community and belonging, developing friendships with their neighbours. The scheme went on to win several UK Awards for both the design of the scheme and the achievements of the shared neighbourhoods.

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