Every month we introduce you to one of the people leading the work of our member organisations. In this edition, we take a trip to Belfast to meet Alan Shannon, the new Chair of our member, NIFHA. Alan presents the Northern Ireland Federation of Housing Associations, gives us information about the perception of housing in N. Ireland and shares some thoughts about the current challenges at national level. Plus, as usual, he reveals his secret recipe for a good life-work balance.
- I would describe NIFHA in 10 words as the representative body for the Housing Associations in Northern Ireland. We have 20 members managing some 45,000 units and building 2,000 homes a year.
- Our key objective is to shape the operating environment to enable housing associations to flourish.
- Apart from housing provision, our mission is to encourage cohesive communities, tackling the social and political divisions which are endemic in our society.
- We joined Housing Europe because we saw value in developing connections beyond our small region.
In N. Ireland
- Housing is considered to be in N. Ireland a basic human right. It was housing issues which sparked the civil rights protests in the 1960’s which led to political instability and social upheaval for over 30 years. There has been substantial investment and we take great care to ensure housing in managed in a manner which is seen to be fair to our citizens.
- Our key partners in the country are the Department for Communities, the banks and our tenants.
- Our main housing policy priority at the moment is to mitigate the potential adverse impact of some aspects of the UK Government’s welfare reform programme on our associations and their residents.
- The major challenge for the country today is Brexit and the restoration of the structure of Government in N. Ireland.
- I start my working day with my morning newspaper. I am retired, although in addition to housing, I am involved with the British Council and Queen’s University, Belfast.
- Outside the office I play golf. I am vice-captain of my club this year which imposes significant administrative duties.
- Currently I am reading 'The tears of the Rajas' by Ferdinand Mount, while listening to the wonders of Spotify, ranging from Van Morrison to Mozart.
- I move around by by car; one of those unfashionable diesels.
- I prefer having on my table a gin and tonic, especially one of our new local distillations such as Shortcross.