Every month we introduce you to one of the people leading the work of our member organisations. In this edition, we head to Scotland to introduce you to the CEO of our member organisation SFHA, Mary Taylor.
- I would describe SFHA in 10 words as the national representative body for Scottish housing associations and co-operatives.
- Our key objective is to lead, support and represent our members.
- Apart from housing provision, our mission is to promote and support the work of our members and to positively influence government policy and bring about change. We don’t provide housing but our members do.
- We are members of Housing Europe because it’s vital that housing bodies share knowledge and good practice and learn from each other.
- Housing is considered to be in Scotland the cornerstone to a person’s life and good housing can reduce social inequality. Good quality housing is also vital for good health and mental wellbeing and happiness. There have also been studies which have linked housing to educational attainment and life chances, it’s well understood that poor housing is detrimental to wellbeing and life chances, at any age, whereas good housing can make a positive contribution, at any age.
- Our key partners in the country are government offices and agencies – the Scottish Government, various departments of the UK Government; private businesses – financial institutions and commercial suppliers; and a variety of third sector bodies and businesses, including those working on housing issues – professional development, training, HR services, consultancy and research. And, of course, we would not exist without our members.
- Our main housing policy priority at the moment is… In the current climate of changes to welfare – how do we increase the supply of genuinely affordable, warm, green homes? We need investment in new and existing housing, at rents people can afford for houses that people can afford to heat.
- The major challenge for the country today is ensuring that the next UK Government, elected in May, delivers the further devolution promised after the Scottish independence referendum. Further powers are promised in relation to welfare and energy which will affect housing. We want to be sure that future funding arrangements allow these powers to be exercised fully.
- I start my working day just after 8am when I check my email. I catch the train to work most days and spend the journey on the mobile or the laptop reading or writing. On the occasions when l look up from a screen, I see all sorts of wildlife in the countryside – birds of prey, hares, roe deer and foxes.
- After leaving the office… I usually leave after everyone else, when the office is quiet, as it allows me to catch up before going home on a quiet train. I use my evenings to socialise, read novels, or do yoga or sing, and I enjoy the occasional glass of wine! In the long bright evenings during the summer, I can be found gardening.
- Currently I am reading Nora Webster by Colm Toibin. It is about a widow bringing up children in a conservative Irish town in the late ‘60s. I also just finished In Times of Fading Light about a family in eastern Germany from ‘30s to the present day.
- While listening to Choral music by Durufle or Elgar – I’m practising both for concerts later this spring. And BBC Radio 4 is a frequent companion
- I move around by train and by car. And on foot, to and from stations. I like to walk.
- I prefer having on my table… I don’t do diets but recently took to the paleo diet for health reasons and loving the flavours, variety and quantity. It’s been described as eat what you like, mostly plants and not too much. Seems like good advice.