volunteers

The power of the volunteer

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The BBC documentary The Great Storm That Saved a City provides fascinating insights not only into the storm itself but how it played its part in transforming Glasgow’s housing and in particular how it sowed the seeds of the city’s community controlled housing associations. These tenant-led organisations have consistently argued for their governance to be an unpaid, voluntary affair. While there is an argument from some quarters to have paid board members, this has been strongly resisted in the community-controlled sector. 

Scotland’s housing association sector has always been a diverse one, and time will tell whether it ever becomes more than a handful which pay some of their board members. The long-standing commitment to the principles and practice of voluntarism is the DNA of the community controlled housing association (CCHA) sector but goes well beyond that part of the movement and, critically, doesn’t in any way signify a reluctance or inability to modernise.

The CCHA sector has  been well served by a governance model based entirely on the input of volunteers. But sticking to that model doesn’t mean that they’re standing still in the challenging financial and regulatory environment we all face.

Quietly and organically, CCHAs have been looking at the mix of experience and skills they need to ensure a healthy board/management committee into the future. Some have chosen to advertise, and this has often led to them being able to bolster both the number of board members (some local, some not) and the range of skills and experience available to the association. Read the rest of this entry »