An interview with our Chair

Heather Thomas

Getting to know Heather Thomas

After leaving university, I worked in the housing sector in both local authority and housing association roles for many years. Like many of my colleagues, I fell into housing and never looked back.

What are your passions and interests?

Having a fairer society for all is something I am both interested in and passionate about. The changing trends, challenges, and opportunities we face as a community, both at a local and national level, have led me to take a keen interest in current affairs and policy. Naturally, I also enjoy spending quality time with both immediate and long distance family members and friends. I love 90s R&B music, a good drama and a thriller too!

When I was growing up, I wanted a career that was people-focused. I thought I would either do social work or get involved in law. I began my housing career as a housing assistant. By taking advantage of development opportunities available to me, I worked my way up from there. My current day job is the CEO of a small housing association. And, as I live locally to Croydon, I had always kept an eye on ccha and what they were up to as a local housing provider.

When I saw an advert for ccha Board members four years ago, I jumped at the chance to get involved. I saw this as a natural step as I had observed ccha from afar and was keen to contribute and share my experience. When the previous Chair’s term was coming to an end, having enjoyed being a Board member so far, I decided to apply for the Chair position. It was a pleasure and honour to be selected to lead the Association.

What is the most rewarding part of being Chair?

I feel a great sense of pride being part of an organisation that I have helped to develop and progress to where it is today. There is no better feeling than visiting one of our new homes, knowing that a family from the local community will soon move in and begin a new chapter in their lives. I am especially proud of all the efforts our staff put in to make our services a success. I enjoy spending quality time with the Board and the Leadership Team. Having the ability to reconnect, share a common goal, review the Business Plan and welcome new members has been a real plus for me this year in the midst of the challenges brought by the pandemic.

What excites you about ccha’s future?

The pandemic has had a massive impact on our residents and our organisation. I am really appreciative of the work that staff have been doing to keep services running over the last year. We want to ensure that we and our residents emerge from it strong, as we look for new opportunities and ways of working together. We are doubling our efforts to deliver what we set out to achieve in the Business Plan, getting back out to the schemes, coming into the office, seeing people face to face, and, above all, increasing resident satisfaction and wellbeing. I am also looking forward to hearing how residents think we can improve services. It is both a challenging and exciting time for us.

What have you learned over the last year and how can ccha improve?

It was our priority to deliver on our year 1 Business Plan objectives but when the pandemic hit, we focused on the wellbeing of residents and staff. This last year has shown me how adaptable and resilient we are and how important each person’s wellbeing is to our goals as an organisation.

The George Floyd tragedy last year and the increased promotion of the Black Lives Matter movement also reminded us of the importance of our commitment to diversity and inclusion. As such, we plan to review our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Strategy, update our staff training and make sure we are an inclusive employer.

Strategic objective 1: Resident standards