TPAS Annual Conference 2018: My conference highlight | Tenant Blog

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TPAS Annual Conference 2018: My conference highlight

TPAS celebrates it’s 30th birthday this year so it is a perfect time to pause and reflect on where social housing has come in that time, whilst also looking forward.

With a wealth of housing experience and history of campaigning, Tom Murtha guided us through some of the key highlights and lowlights of the past 30 years of housing and involvement. It was a very moving, yet powerful presentation; sometimes controversial, yet always sincere and open.

There was a lot of passion and a constant reminder of just how far we have come. Or have we?  

Tom told us it will soon be the 15th anniversary of his mum's death, and how as a 12lb breached baby, he survived a traumatic birth, when his brother who was born in 1947 didn't. He benefitted from the NHS, which is 70 years old this year, and living in a council house that was part of the post war boom for council houses in a time when over 300,000 homes were built.

How does that compare with the situation now? Do we have a Government that cares about social housing? 

He told us how his mother-in-law arrived in England with her family 50 years ago, with no money, no friends and nowhere to stay. He went on to say how she had developed dementia, and as the condition deteriorated, it was then that he was understood how Government cuts had reduced the social care needed. In her last few weeks, she went into a care home managed by a BME housing association.

Tom played a small part (modest statement I think) in the beginning and opened similar homes in Leicester, Birmingham, Leeds and Liverpool.

In 1965 he was made homeless after his father lost his job. They spent the next 9 months walking the streets of Leicester and staying with relatives and friends.

He recalled watching the Wednesday Play on TV; a drama called “Cathy Come Home”. One of the most important events in social housing history, as a result, Shelter was formed. He said we have a duty to honour their legacy by continuing their social purpose.

Tom has spent many many years working in the housing sector from a Tenant Support Team Leader to Executive Director of MIH. He now works for Riverside and they helped to fund TPAS for tenant engagement and here we are 30 years later still going strong.

Tom spoke with great passion about how the sector had changed, with “Right to Buy” and the many campaigns he was involved in. The importance of tenant involvement cannot be overstated, the introduction of welfare reforms and much more.

I fully agree with so many of Tom’s comments, such as the need to support the thousands of tenants who are willing and able to be involved. The commitment, skills and values. We have to keep the flame burning for the next 30 years and to light the flames of true tenant power across the housing sector.

This was my highlight of the TPAS Tenant Conference 2018 - a presentation I will long remember.

Thank you so much Tom for a look back at 30 years of TPAS and your life. You have helped so much to change the face of tenant involvement. Long may that continue.

I believe we need to spread the word about tenant power across the sector. Only when we have a powerful, and national, tenant voice will Governments and future Governments listen to us.

I thank you Tom for allowing me to use your presentation as the basis for my Blog and enjoyed meeting you at the conference and having a chat.

David Yates.

CGA Board Member.