Blog: A year to remember for CIH president Julie Fadden
As she prepares to hand over the reins to Alison Inman, CIH speaks to Julie Fadden to find out what she’s enjoyed most about being president, her biggest achievements and her hopes for her legacy.
From teetering on the edge of a 116-storey building and losing three stone on her way to raising more than £50,000 for Crisis, to visiting housing professionals across the globe and taking more than 20 people off the street - it’s fair to say it has been an extraordinary year for CIH president Julie Fadden.
As she prepares to hand over the reins to Alison Inman in September, we spoke to Julie to find out what being CIH president has meant to her.
What have you enjoyed most about being CIH president?
That’s actually a really easy question to answer – it has to be meeting so many members. As vice president and president I’ve had the chance to meet housing professionals from every region in England, every country in the UK and around the world.
Wherever in the world I have been it has been really humbling to see the passion that people have for their work and their belief in CIH. It doesn’t matter what challenges people face and where they are, housing professionals have a real commitment to help people.
It’s also been really clear that CIH is more relevant than it has ever been. The organisation represents professionals at every level and it drives standards in our profession in a unique way. Wherever you are and whatever your role, you can benefit from that.
And the diversity in our membership has also been a big lesson for me. Having perspective from people in such varied organisations and roles is crucial. The exchanging of ideas is a central part of what makes CIH so important.
What have been your highlights from your time as president?
There are so many highlights but visiting the Asian Pacific branch of CIH in Hong Kong for its 50th anniversary stands out. We have thousands of members in that branch now and the potential to expand there is huge. The enthusiasm and passion of those members is fantastic and was great to see. I had so many people waiting and wanting to speak to me because I was the president and they hold CIH in such high regard. It was so good to see that across the globe there are housing professionals all striving to the same goals and utterly passionate about their work.
Another highlight has to be working with, and fundraising, for Crisis - I’m so proud that we’ve raised over £50,000 for this fantastic organisation. And just as important is the fact we have been able to highlight the issue of homelessness and profile the work of Crisis during its 50th anniversary - I’m really proud of that.
What do you hope your legacy will be?
Well my theme for my presidency was Changing Lives and I hope that’s what I’ve achieved, but more importantly I hope it’s influenced the way that other people think as well.
When I chose Crisis as my presidential charity I went out onto the streets in Liverpool to talk to homeless people. Just one visit was enough to change my outlook completely.
We took a chance on those people at South Liverpool Homes and we took them in and housed them. I’m so proud that during my presidential year we’ve now helped more than 20 people and they are still with us and thriving.
We need to do so much more to tackle homelessness in the UK - wherever I have gone I’ve tried to get across that message and I hope it’s landed with people. Because as housing professionals that is what we are here to do – to change lives – and we must all play our part in doing that.
What is your message to Alison Inman, who takes over from you next month, and what would your advice to her be?
Alison has been a fantastic vice president and I’m sure she will be remarkable in the role, I certainly feel like I’m handing over to a very safe pair of hands.
My advice to Alison would be to have clear targets on what you want to achieve – you can’t do everything - and also to pace yourself as it is a very, very busy year. But I know she’ll be great.
Will you miss the role?
Of course I will, it’s been fantastic, but in truth I’m exhausted! Combining the role of president with being a chief executive and board member is extremely rewarding but it’s also hard work, so I’m looking forward to just being able to concentrate on one role again and having a bit of a rest from all of the other responsibilities.
There are so many people to say thank you to because without them I couldn’t have done what I have – everyone at CIH, my family, my team and the board at SLH and all of the many people who have helped me throughout my time in the presidential team – thank you all!
What has being president taught you about CIH?
Well first of all I wish I’d joined earlier in my career. I’ve been involved with CIH for many years now but if I could change anything it’s that I didn’t become a member when I was younger, because there are so many benefits.
Being part of CIH makes you part of an organisation that will help you be the best you can be in the housing profession. The sense of community, the practical training, the sharing of ideas – all of that helps this great profession thrive - and that is more important than ever. I’d urge anyone who isn’t a member to take a look at what we offer and consider joining.