I can’t quite believe it when I say that I have worked in – and been committed to – social housing for more than 50 years. Prior to joining ClwydAlyn I had many roles in two large Housing Associations, including the privilege of being the CEO of a successful Housing Association for 20 years, which was recognised as sector leading.
The last eight years have been spent on ClwydAlyn’s Board and it’s been a privilege to have held the role of Chair for the last seven years.
I’ve worked alongside people who inspire me every day, people who care and people who have fire in their bellies to make things better for others. I have no doubt that this spirit at ClwydAlyn will remain steadfast, whatever may lie ahead.
As I step down from my role, this feels like a good opportunity to reflect on all that’s happened in the last eight years.
The organisation has a very different and much simpler legal structure than it did when I joined. I share in a sense of pride knowing that ClwydAlyn is now easier for everyone – tenants, staff, partners, even the Board – to thrive in and understand.
We’ve been on a cultural journey too and it’s been a pleasure to watch colleagues go on this wholeheartedly, resulting in a more agile, flexible and inclusive place to work.
ClwydAlyn truly lives its values of trust, kindness and hope. I’ve seen them in action day in day out, in how we deliver services and the way we work with our people.
I’m also proud to leave knowing that an exemplary leadership team and CEO are in place to drive the mission and vision forward at ClwydAlyn.
Clare Budden and the team truly have the skills and shared values, to not just run an efficient organisation, but to be brave and bold about doing the right things.
Of course, my time here has not been without its tough patches. The COVID-19 pandemic was one such period; especially with such a large number of services caring for very vulnerable people. More recently, witnessing more people being pushed into poverty and the resulting devastation it has on their lives has been a source of distress.
In 2020, we adopted Together to beat Poverty as our mission, and we knew we had to translate these words into action.
We have not only introduced a policy of no evictions into homelessness, but we have worked incredibly hard to implement and maintain it, seeking instead to help address issues in constructive ways. I am proud to say that we have evicted nobody in the last 3 years.
We have created a partnership with social enterprise Well Fed and provided many thousands of nutritious meals to households in need across North Wales over the last few years.
We have a partnership with Warm Wales to fight fuel poverty and have enabled hundreds of households to reduce their fuel consumption. We have invested many millions in thermal efficiency in people’s homes.
We are building more homes than ever before with over 500 new homes on site right now, with 95% for social rent. Every home we build is to at least EPC A and off gas. In addition, we have built over 200 truly innovative homes which are setting the standards for the future across the UK.
The best way of all for us to fight poverty is to provide high quality, energy efficient homes that are truly affordable. To enable ClwydAlyn to maximise its new build programme we were the first Housing Association in Wales to refinance using a public bond back in 2017. We have maintained our credit rating ever since allowing us to deliver a large programme in an ever-challenging market whilst others are having to scale back.
I think these examples exemplify what I call the ‘golden thread’ which connects the Board, our organisational missions and values and the real-life impact.
All that remains is for me to proudly pass over to Cris McGuinness, who has a strong background in housing and a passion for making a positive difference. I wish her the very best in what I’m sure will be a fulfilling, challenging and impactful role as ClwydAlyn’s new Chair.
Speaking for myself, at ClwydAlyn there has always been very knowledgeable, talented and committed people in any room I was in! It has been a pleasure to help create some space for them to thrive and achieve great things for communities across North Wales.
Diolch yn fawr
Clare Budden CEO at ClwydAlyn said: “It has been a pleasure to work with Steve as Chair over the last 5 years. This is my first CEO role and Steve’s guidance, experience and sound advice has been so valuable to me, both in addressing the challenges we have faced; and in planning and delivering our mission and growth strategy. His belief in the Housing Association sector and the important role we play in enabling people to live good lives is a value we both share and will continue to be a key driver for ClwydAlyn.”