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Why I joined CCH

Hugh Russell looks forward to his new job in the Communities Creating Homes team.

Despite the best efforts of successive Welsh Governments, Wales’ housing crisis endures, manifesting itself in a series of challenges which are wearing away at the fabric of communities across the country. People across Wales, especially the young, are priced out of ownership in an overheated market. Housing insecurity is crippling many, with a recent Bevan Foundation report noting that a staggering 6 per cent of Welsh households have been told that they will lose their home imminently, and a further 5 per cent fear that they will lose their home in the next three months. Many people feel disempowered and at the mercy of market forces for that most basic of survival needs: shelter.

This is one of the defining challenges of our era and one which demands a step change in how we deliver homes, how we empower people to feel part of their communities and how we ensure that future generations are able access homes which meet their needs in the places they were brought up. This is why I am so excited to have joined the Communities Creating Homes team at the Wales Co-Op Centre, who work to support the burgeoning and innovative network of community-led housing developments across the country. These range from one- or two- home co-operatives to community land trusts, who utilise land to lock in affordable homes for their communities. They take in approaches which seek to minimise carbon emissions and use natural materials, such as the proposed Coed Preseli development in Pembrokeshire (pictured below), which seeks to deliver low-energy timber frames and cladding in the creation of homes on a hugely promising live/ work site, which will offer residents both accommodation and environmentally sustainable economic opportunities.

My background is in housing policy and homelessness prevention. I join the Centre after an exciting period working at Llamau, where I managed the End Youth Homelessness Cymru campaign. This provided unique opportunities to address some of the challenges young people face in accessing and sustaining suitable homes by working with partners to develop innovative solutions, such as Ty Pride, Wales’ first supported home for LGBTQ+ young people, who are so disproportionately impacted by homelessness, and Tai Ffres, a joint- United Welsh and Llamau approach based on NAL, the Finnish housing association for young people, and an organisation with whom I remain involved. Prior roles, particularly in the policy team at Community Housing Cymru, and a housing MSc from Cardiff University, gave me the chance to develop a breadth of experience amongst some of the passionate and energetic people that make up the Welsh social housing sector, which I hope will be of value as I start in the new role.

I’m ambitious for the Communities Creating Homes team: I see community-led housing as a genuine alternative for many people in Wales and I join the team at what feels like a watershed moment for the movement, with Welsh Government affirming their support for co-operative and community-led initiatives, and a groundswell of support for a community-driven response to housing need. I look forward to updating WHQ readers on our progress as a team and to supporting the many people in Wales looking to work with their communities to address the housing crisis.

Hugh Russell is project manager at Communities Creating Homes

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