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Residents graduate from UK’s only social housing school

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Residents graduate from UK’s only social housing school

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Published by Jon Land for 24dash.com in Housing

Residents graduate from UK's only social housing school Residents graduate from UK's only social housing school

The first residents have graduated from the UK's only dedicated school of social housing.

The Phoenix Academy was launched in April by south London social landlord Phoenix Community Housing to encourage tenant and leaseholder involvement and grow board members of the future.

Following a 12-week programme, residents and Phoenix apprentices celebrated their graduation on Tuesday 29 July with a ceremony at Phoenix’s headquarters and community building - The Green Man in south Lewisham. Each received a graduation certificate from Mayor of Lewisham Sir Steve Bullock in front of an audience including Lewisham East MP Heidi Alexander.

The Phoenix Academy covered a wide range of subjects, from the history of social housing to housing finance, and different types of governance to the development of construction techniques since Phoenix’s original stock was built in the early 1920s.

The final session saw Chair Pat Fordham MBE and Vice Chair David Cummins – both tenants – talk about the story behind the creation of Phoenix as London’s first resident-owned housing association in 2007.

During the programme, the students were also invited on trips to the Houses of Parliament and Greater London Authority. Twenty four residents and apprentices graduated in total.

Some of the academy’s students are now seeking work placements at Phoenix as a springboard to a career in housing, while others are pursuing opportunities to get more involved in resident working groups and ultimately stand for election to the Phoenix Board.

The course was developed and delivered in-house, with senior staff taking on the role of tutors during the 12 two-hour sessions. Other housing associations, such as Tower Hamlets Community Housing, are now seeking to deliver a similar programme for their residents.

Phoenix Chief Executive Jim Ripley said: “We were stepping into unknown territory with the Phoenix Academy, but the response from both our residents and our staff has been fantastic.

“We’re a resident-owned and resident-led organisation. We’ve shown over the past seven years that this model can produce great results, but in the longer term we need a new generation of residents who have real enthusiasm for improving services, coupled with a good understanding of how we operate.

“It’s so encouraging to know that residents who have completed the academy are now wanting to get more involved in various different ways at Phoenix. I’d like to congratulate all of the graduates and we can’t wait to run our next academy in 2015.”

Below are comments from some of the residents who have graduated:

Eileen Davies, 54: “It was great to meet more like-minded people who are interested in how Phoenix works and who want to help improve it. The lively debates were a joy and to see the differences in what people found important was an eye-opener at times. The staff have been an inspiration. I’ve become part of the Scrutiny Group and intend to throw myself wholeheartedly into helping it become as successful as possible. I will also be volunteering my services as much as possible to help Phoenix improve and move forward in the future for happy residents.

Elizabeth Adebayo, 25: “I most enjoyed the different aspects of social housing from a historical, social and economic perspective. However, I also enjoyed the trip to the Houses of Parliament which I found very interesting. I plan on getting some voluntary work at Phoenix in order to gain some skills and experience before working in the housing field.”

Komi Noudoukou, 46: “My highlight has been developing an understanding of how social housing has helped families, vulnerable people and people in need over the years. I also learned how Phoenix has involved the community to improve its services. I’ll now be involved in the Phoenix scrutiny panel.”

Phoenix is now recruiting for the next Phoenix Academy course. Residents who are interested in taking part or would like to find out more can call Phoenix on 0800 0285 700 or 0844 264 2844, or email correspondence@phoenixch.org.uk.

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