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Last week, Simon and I attended the annual National Housing Federation conference, held at the ICC in Birmingham. Both Simon and Carole spoke as part of a breakout session titled ‘S15: Transformative and Innovation Showcase’ and Simon's blog, 'What is the point of insight & Innovation', gives a more detailed look at the key messages they delivered during their presentation.

Conference is always a great opportunity to meet new people, catch up with some familiar faces and discuss new ideas, but more than that, it’s a real demonstration of the enthusiasm and pride that those of us who work in the sector demonstrate on a daily basis.  The program over the two days was extremely varied but throughout it all, there appeared to be three key themes:

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Innovation was a huge topic this year, especially as the National Housing Federation officially launched their #CreatingOurFuture campaign, which seeks to find the brightest and best ideas from across the sector, with the best idea receiving significant investment to bring it to life. Having been involved in some of the early discussions with the National Housing Federation about this project, we are eagerly awaiting to see how this rolls out and look forward to helping drive more evidence-based innovation across the sector. It didn’t just stop here though, with the 24Housing Young Leaders finalists discussing their new ideas for addressing key issues within housing and several sessions including topics on building services for millennials, how to integrate digital technologies to allow fair access to all and even out of the box ideas for relieving the housing shortage.

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There has been a lot of discussion over this in the last few weeks on Twitter, as many of us ‘fell’ into housing rather than choosing to enter it.  It’s easy to see why - in the past, it may not have appeared the most exciting career choice to school leavers or graduates when compared to being an astronaut or doctor, but then, we’ve got better as a sector about promoting the work we do and made people realise it's not just about the bricks and mortar.  It's a social career choice that makes a huge difference to its customers, and one that’s really rewarding.  We’ll be looking into some of the key learning points from the sessions based around this in a later post.

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Whilst the bricks and mortar still remain important, there was also a huge focus on how we can help customers to not just provide a home, but also assist in their life ambitions and goals through deployment of coaching relationships and specific services within neighbourhoods aimed at linking communities together.  This is something here at Bromford we have started doing through our Localities work and the employment of Neighbourhood Coaches, and we have seen positive shifts already through changing the way we interact with customers, so it was great to see recognition from across the sector that as things continue to change, putting the emphasis and importance on the person as opposed to the process.  More on this later in the week.

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This brief post doesn’t really do the full content justice, so we’ll be publishing a separate post looking at each of these themes in a bit more detail, referencing particular keynotes and breakout sessions and giving our thoughts over the coming week or so.  We really took a lot from the two days, so we hope that our summaries will show some of the key learning points and maybe start some discussion.

In the meantime, have a great week!

@ChelleKButler

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