A short introduction first – I’m Paula and I’m the relatively new Chief Executive of Melin Homes, having taken on the role at the start of February.
Some of you may already know me as I’ve worked in social housing for over 26 years and for about 14 of those I was based in Wales. More recently I’ve been working for a stock transfer association in Herefordshire and for a charitable housing, health and social care provider in Bristol.
When I left Bristol, I talked about the fact that opportunities for senior roles in Wales don’t come up very often, but you wait nine years for a Chief Executive job and then nine come along at once! What this means is that at a Chief Executive level the Welsh housing sector will be starting to look at things with several fresh pairs of eyes.
This is important because the challenges that Melin is facing going forward are shared challenges that won’t be resolved by a ‘more of the same’ approach. Some of our challenges are shared with other organisations who, like us, are growing and diversifying, some with the Welsh housing sector, some with the UK housing sector and some with the public and third sector. As I see them these challenges are:
- Maintaining an organisational wide, values led culture across an increasingly dispersed and growing workforce
- Negotiating a longer-term rent deal with the Welsh Government on the back of their affordable housing targets
- The wider framework for social housing being constructed by Westminster within which Welsh associations must operate
- Delivering on the value for money agenda and demonstrating social value
- The increasing pressure on revenue funding and the impact of austerity on our residents
Before I joined Melin, I was asked what I wanted from staff to meet the challenges faced by the business and to drive the business forward. What I said I wanted was for staff to be brave, commercial, honest – and I wanted them to care.
Two months into the role I see the staff at Melin striving to be all of these things, so we stand a great chance of delivering the organisational growth and development that we aspire to. As a sector, we need to be all of these things if we are to stand any chance of meeting not only our own aspirations but also those set for us by Welsh Government. More critically if we are to deliver for our residents and the communities we are a part of we have no choice but to be all of these things.