It’s August, everyone seems to be on leave, and Edinburgh is crammed full of tourists, in the empty homes team that means one thing, summer is on its last legs and it’s time to get ready for November – and the Scottish Empty Homes Conference. Ok, perhaps that isn’t the logical progression of thoughts for most of you but it’s going to roll around before you know it. So while your colleagues are on leave and you’ve got some quite(r) time in the office I’ve got a couple tasks for you to get you ready for when November does rear its rainy head.
The first one is easy – taking advantage of our early bird booking rates to get your delegate place at 20% off the regular delegate rates. While the agenda is still being finalised we have confirmed a number of exciting speakers. Kevin Stewart MSP, Minister for Local Government and Housing will be speaking at his first ever Empty Homes Conference; Allyson Allison from Stirling Council and David Sanderson from Carlisle City Council are going to put on a double-act workshop about making the business case for an Empty Homes Officer and sharing how they achieved permanent contracts after years of fixed term empty homes posts. Steve Grimshaw from the Kent ‘No Use Empty’ Project will be speaking about 10 years of experience with their empty homes loans; and we are planning several panel sessions including local projects and housing associations involved in innovative empty homes work.
Early bird booking is open from now until the 16th September when general booking opens. We still have our popular discounted additional delegate rates too if there is a group of you from your organisation looking to attend. The booking form can be found here: https://shelterscotland.wufoo.com/forms/mxifapx1wfdbz4/ and more details of speakers will be online in the next week or so.
Okay the second task a few more of you will baulk at I think. Because it involves everyone’s (well most people’s) least favourite activity – self-promotion. Yes, you guessed it, its awards season again! The nomination criteria for the Howdens' Scottish Empty Homes Champion of the Year Awards is out and nominations will be accepted until the 3rd of October. I know it’s not the most comfortable thing for some of you to do but the nominations themselves are anonymous so not even the awards panel know who’s submitted them. And frankly who knows what you do well better than you? We’ve had plenty of examples over the years of how awards have boosted the profile of empty homes services and projects and helped to retain funding and even establish permanent posts (speak to Allyson or Isobel if you want to hear more about that). But more than that the awards are primarily about sharing what works, so everyone can benefit. One thing I think the Scottish Empty Homes Officer Network has to be proud of is that members aren’t precious about their good ideas. They understand that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. So while there are less of your colleagues around to look over your shoulder why not jot down some of this year’s accomplishments and why you think others might do well to copy them? Presto – you have an awards submission…now press send.
The nomination criteria can be found on the Knowledge Hub now and it will be uploaded on Shelter Scotland’s webpages very soon.
Ok, tasks complete? Feel free to go back to counting the sleeps until your holiday or replaying in your head the one you’ve just returned from (in between tirelessly bringing empty homes back into use of course!).