What can Danish housing associations and tenant representatives learn from a visit to West London? Exchange between member organisations but also between members of Housing Europe members is at the very core of the activities of the European Federation of Public, Cooperative and Social Housing. We have asked Shepherds Bush Housing Group (SBHG)- a member of the NHF in the UK- and Arbejdernes Andels Boligforening- a member of BL in Denmark to share with us their experience of their recent meet up in the British capital.
An English perspective
Joanna Charlton, Communications Manager of SBHG says: ”Best practice exchanges are part of Housing Europe. At Shepherds Bush Housing Group in west London our mission of Social Heart, Business Head, Local Impact means we relish the chance to share. We have welcomed 10 French associations and two Danish. We visited Haute Savoie Habitat and established a staff twinning with Est Metropole Habitat – a first for Europe we think!
We get a huge amount from visits. The latest from Arbejdernes Andels Boligforening involved 12 staff and two Resident Voice members, elected tenant representatives.
Of most interest is our added extra services. Staying First provides services to the vulnerable and runs our furniture re-use service, Furnish. Best Chance helps people into employment. Love Local shows the value we add to the community. Estate Pride manages our estates - team leader Richard always says hello in our guests’ language – pronunication may not be perfect but his intention is! Plus Big Conversation, where all staff meet residents, winner of a 2017 European Responsible Housing Award.
This visit we were joined by the chair of TPAS, the leading tenant engagement experts, keen also to learn about Danish boards made up entirely of tenants. Our staff come away with a pride, a broadened perspective and a reminder that there is much that unites us.”
A Danish perspective
Anders Rønnebro from the visiting delegation shares his view: ”Firstly, it is always of great value to get new impressions and ideas from others - even more so - when it’s from abroad as it broadens your perspective in general.
The conditions and the legislation between our two countries are different but the general objectives and pillars of our societies are identical (i.e. open society, democracy, freedom of speech, general health care, social security).
The knowledge that there are people in the UK that have the same aspirations on social housing and affordable homes as we have is very comforting and energising. The visit to your tenant Bill’s apartment was a deep and very emotional beginning of our day that put yours and our daily work in perspective! The enthusiasm of every individual at SBHG was remarkable and had a great impact on every one of us, and being able to sit in eye level and discuss and hear about mutual experiences with other tenants also made it a great day. Over the coming months, we will tell each other stories of what we heard and learnt in London.”