I was interested in working with jLiving as I was keen to use my experience as a Local Authority Councillor, Cabinet Member and non-Executive Director of an NHS Trust to help a Jewish organisation particularly in the area of community housing.
I have been with jLiving since the summer of 2021, so I am still learning about the organisation, our tenants and leaseholders and the challenges and opportunities jLiving faces.
I mentioned earlier that I have experience in a number of areas that I believe will be helpful to jLiving, specifically in the areas of social housing and Adult Social care. I also have extensive Board experience in the private commercial sector mainly in technology but also in other areas, including as the Chairman of Henry Huntsman, the leading bespoke tailor on Saville Row! I want to put this experience to good use to benefit jLiving, all our tenants, staff and stakeholders.
I have a long-standing interest in social housing in all its forms which was one of the main reasons why I became involved with jLiving. I have dealt specifically with local authority Sheltered Housing, chairing a few residents’ forums working with tenants to resolve issues such as anti-social behaviour, maintenance issues and safeguarding especially for the vulnerable.
There are many issues when providing good quality social housing, starting with cost. The cost of property is escalating as I am sure everyone is well aware: the real challenge is how to improve and expand the housing portfolio without having to charge tenants ‘market rates’ to live in our accommodation. I am also a firm believer in the importance of ‘good’ social housing, which means homes should be kept to a good standard and should always be places where people want to live. This is easy to say and not always easy to deliver as cost comes into it again, as well as finding the right staff (paying them a fair wage) to deliver the best possible solutions for tenants. These are some of the challenges but none of them are insurmountable and this is the opportunity for the sector. With good management and innovative thinking at all levels as well as listening carefully to tenant feedback, I am confident the challenges can be overcome!
Many of the challenges faced by social housing for the Jewish community are the same as those facing all social housing providers. There are some which bring some additional complexities, for example providing a cross community solution that caters for the needs of the very orthodox as well as for those members of our community who are not observant at all. The other issue which is sadly more of an issue in recent times, is that of security. Any building associated with the Jewish community requires a higher level of security awareness.
I am not really an expert on the social housing provision within the Jewish community. I am aware of other organisations who do provide social housing but are focussed on specific subsets of the community (e.g. Jewish Blind and Disabled), but I do not think there is anyone else out there in the UK that has such a broad offering across sheltered housing and young people’s accommodation within our community.
I think this is very rare these days. Social housing has so many different varieties these days that it is a critical part of the housing base. Without it we would be in a dire situation for many and I think this is widely understood and readily accepted.
I hope that we will be able to expand our housing portfolio to meet the community’s needs over the next five years, offering affordable well-maintained homes where tenants feel happy and safe and feel part of the jLiving community.
10. Tell us something about yourself that no-one would know!
That’s a tough question as my wife, children and friends know pretty much all there is to know about me! I have a love of single malt whisky and was once (many years ago) an honorary Brand Ambassador for Glenmorangie which was a hugely enjoyable role. That is not exactly unknown but was a lot of fun!