A word from our founder Barry Hodge on why he cares about social housing.

In this article I share why I am so passionate about helping social housing providers that goes back to my childhood. I also share my project management journey and how this benefits social housing providers who want to get projects done.

As most people who work in social housing will tell you residents of social housing properties unfairly have a stigma attached to them by those who have never experienced social housing. There is a huge diversity of people who live in social housing from young people starting out for the first time away from home right through to people who have lived in the same house for many years.

When I was very young my parents divorced and I lived with my mother in Plymouth. For a period of time we lived with my grandparents. Then one day after school my mother picked me up from school and said I have something to show you.

So we made our way to another part of Plymouth not far from where my grandparents lived. I remember walking up the path to this house and my mother suddenly producing a key. We went inside and downstairs there was a kitchen diner and lounge. Upstairs there was 2 bedrooms and a bathroom. When we went into one of the bedrooms it was huge with so much space. My mother turned to me and said this is your room. No more living with my grandparents and sharing a room with my mother. It was amazing to have my own space for my toy cars to whizz along the carpet.

What I did not know then was this was all made possible by social housing. The house belonged to the Guinness Trust and they had helped my mother get her independence back and gave me a safe and secure home to grow up.

“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why”

I am grateful for the help social housing gave my mother and I, and this is why it is my aim to help all social housing providers become even better at getting projects done.

By getting projects done social housing providers are able to deliver new and improved services helping people like my mother and I to have a safe and secure home.

Having this secure home enabled me to focus on what I wanted to do. After watching Top Gun I joined the local Air Cadets and set my sights on joining the RAF. Once I had finished my GCSE’s I joined the RAF as an engineer. Apparently my hand eye co-ordination was not fast enough to become the next ‘Maverick’ so flying was out for me.

As an engineer I throughly enjoyed my time in RAF meeting lots of people and learning new skills. However there was always a desire to have a go at flying a plane regardless of my hand eye coordination. My first project was setting up a flying school at RAF Cosford. You can read about this project here.

After the RAF

In 2003 I left the RAF with a desire to do more projects so I enrolled onto a three year degree in project management at the University of Wolverhampton. Upon leaving the RAF I joined Phones4u as a project manager.

After 3 years at Phones4u I moved across to the Co-op where I would spend a further 5 years as a project manager. I moved to the distribution side of Lloyds Pharmacy to work for AAH Pharmaceuticals to deliver a project for Astra Zeneca. This project my largest so far was setting up the ordering and distribution of two new cancer drugs to both private and NHS hospitals.

It was in 2012 that I had an opportunity to work in social housing. Bromford Housing were looking for a project manager as they were finding projects were not getting done. They wanted to start delivering projects and so wanted to hire a professional project manager.

This was too good an opportunity to miss. A chance to payback to the social housing sector after it helped me 30 years earlier. When I arrived at Bromford I could see that they would benefit from a project framework. This would give a structured approach to delivering projects. The difficulty with frameworks is they need to be customised. You cannot just lift one from one industry and expect it to work. You need to tailor it. For example some industries demand rigorous documentation however others just need a light touch that will enable them to deliver projects faster. It was then that I started working on the Social Housing Project Framework. This project framework has been tailored specifically for social housing providers.

You can download it for free here and use it for your projects.

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After my time at Bromford I moved to the south west and joined Knightstone Housing to run their project management team. At Knightstone I continued to develop the social housing framework while helping them become better at delivering projects. Once it was announced that Knightstone would be merging with Devon and Cornwall Homes to form LiveWest I joined Alliance Homes.

I initially joined to deliver a six month project to turn the internal repairs part of the organisation into an external company who could deliver repairs for other social housing providers. However after this project I stayed on to help them create a project management function. As well as putting in the social housing framework I also delivered a bespoke Introduction to Project Management training course..

Project Management Training For Social Housing

The training course used a mixture of animated videos and practical exercises to explain project management in a fun and engaging way. The video below is the first video in the series

If you have enjoyed this video you can access all the videos in the series by clicking here.

If you would like to discuss an onsite training course delivered by me that uses fun and engaging exercises please get in touch by clicking the request help in the menu.

During my time in social housing I have worked on a number of housing management systems, Active H, Open Housing and Civica Cx along with Total Repairs for repair management. However regardless of whichever system is used the challenges of delivering projects remain.

Projects often struggle to get delivered because an organisation under estimates how much effort is involved and also tries to do too many projects at the same time.

The easiest way to stop this from happening is to use a simple gated approach that all projects follow. I have created an easy to use project framework that has been especially developed for social housing providers. It is called the Social Housing Project Framework and you can download a free copy here and use it on your projects.

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Why I Care Infographic