Following his re-election to Glasgow City Council last week, Chris Cunningham has given notice to Shettleston Housing Association of his intention to leave the Association in the autumn of this year.
The recruitment process for his successor will commence immediately.
Chris was elected to the council for the SNP in a by election for the Garscadden/Scotstounhill ward in October 2016 and has now taken up a senior position within the new SNP city government.
Chris joined Shettleston as a housing officer in 1982, straight from the Housing Diploma course at Stirling University, becoming its housing manager in 1985 and director in 1989.
Since then he has led Shettleston to become one of the leading community based associations in Scotland. Under his leadership Shettleston grew through stock transfers in 1994, 2000 and finally as one of the first ‘second stage transfers’ from GHA in 2009.
Chris was a member of the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA) governing council from 1989 to 2000 and was the chair of the SFHA from 1995 to 1998. In 1999 he served on the joint ministerial/city council planning group that was charged with progressing the transfer of the city council’s housing stock and crucially, the development of the ‘second stage transfer’ concept. In 2000 he was seconded to the new organisation. He headed up the original GHA investment team, returning to Shettleston at the end of 2002 following the successful ballot.
Chris then became one of the lead officers in the city who campaigned for second stage transfer and this culminated in taking the lead in negotiating the first transfers, including Shettleston’s, in March 2009.
Under his leadership from 2003 Shettleston developed its wider role work, establishing subsidiary companies to carry out estate caretaking, maintenance and recycling work and promoting new community based organisations such as the Shettleston Community Growing Project, the Fuse Youth Café and most recently the Shettleston Men’s Shed.
The Shettleston group has become a significant presence in the local community, employing more than 120 staff, continuing to develop new housing in the area and investing significantly in its existing stock.
Chris’s career spans a crucial period in the history of Glasgow’s housing, from the growth of the community based movement in the late 70’s with its commitment to the modernisation of the city’s tenements through to the transfer and partial breakup of the council’s previously monolithic housing stock from 2003 to 2011. He was one of a number of officers who committed themselves to the regeneration of the city’s traditional tenement areas and to the concept of community control. Chris’s departure coincides with the historic change in control of the city council, with Labour’s near 40 year uninterrupted rule coming to an end and the SNP taking charge for the first time in Scotland’s largest city.
Looking back on his career and work in Shettleston, Chris said: “It has been my privilege to be part of Shettleston Housing Association for a great part of my working life – indeed I had no idea in 1976 when I returned to Scotland from Australia that I would end up working for an organisation that had been set up just a few months previously, or that when I started as a housing officer in 1982 that I would remain for so long.
“Doing a job that you enjoy, that gives you the opportunity to contribute to the regeneration of a local community and that allows you to work with amazing local people and committed staff has been my privilege over these last 35 years and I am grateful to have had that opportunity.
“I would also like to acknowledge the friendship and professional fellowship of many directors and senior staff from the housing association movement across Glasgow and the West of Scotland over many years. If the sharing of ideas is crucial to success, I like many others, became a better manager by shamelessly borrowing the good ideas of those around me. Small organisations, by definition, must look outward and be open to ideas from elsewhere if they are to grow and prosper. I would like to think that as well as drawing from the well of that collective knowledge I also made my contribution to it.
“I am excited by the challenges that lie ahead. In leaving Shettleston and through my election to the council I now have the opportunity to work for my party, my cause and my city in the years to come.”