Tuesday 6th July 2021

The WISH World Opening Up

WISH MD Helen Greig talks about how far WISH has come, the amazing staff and the future of WISH post Covid.

The WISH World Opening Up

By Helen Greig

Most people see January 1st as a good time for a retrospective of achievements and making plans for the coming year; Janus was after all the Roman god the month is named after, with two faces – one looking back and one forward.  But here at WISH we like to be different.  Maybe because summer is just a nicer time to do that, with some sun (occasionally), and daylight; maybe for less prosaic reasons such as the fact our financial year runs July to June.  Either way, it is time.

It often surprises me just how much gets done at WISH given there is not even a full-time employee between all the different parts of us.  We rely so heavily on our amazing volunteer board members, who do an incredible job of organising and running all the fantastic events you get to participate in, online naturally for now, but for those who have never experienced WISH IRL, they are usually in the regions where you live and work.  Since Christmas, though, there’s been a lot going on behind the scenes too – a new vision and purpose, a strategic and business plan, a new approach to our online events programme bringing you a national WISH event every month, IT migration to Office 365, a partnership on a Leadership programme with Hayley Gillard, and work is underway to livestream our events when the world does eventually allow us to meet again, to keep that online offer that allows more of our members to benefit.  New sponsors – welcome to DixonWalter and Fortem! - and new members are adding to our network and offer, and we’ve also welcomed four new regional chairs – Meghan Rossiter in the SW, Charlotte Murray in Yorkshire and Humber, Crystal Hicks in the NE and Natalie Palframan in north Wales.  We’ve said goodbye to Nicola Dibb, co-founder of WISH, as Executive Director though she remains very involved on the CIC board, and I came on board in December as the first recruited MD of WISH. 

And what about the future? 

Discussions are underway to launch WISH Scotland and we are also considering expanding the north Wales region to cover the whole of the country.  The big hope for most of us is that we will see a return to some real-life networking events this year.  Networking is the reason we exist – it’s our purpose and it’s the reason you’re all members.  We are hoping to kickstart the return to face-to-face with our annual event in Manchester on September 8th (save the date!), plus an exclusive event for some women in senior roles within the sector, thanks to our new sponsor DixonWalter. 

The London region have their first real-life networking event planned for September too with Lovells, so check out our website to keep up with your local region to see what they have planned – https://www.wishgb.co.uk/  Whilst all of this depends on the lifting of restrictions, and safety will always be the top priority in this process, I am already excited to come out and meet everyone in the flesh instead of on a screen.  Whilst there will be a permanent place for online in post-COVID WISH, our real-life events are our lifeforce and our boards are lining up some fantastic speakers for you to come and see, bringing you together once again to catch up with friends and meet new ones.

Whilst the return to real-life events is keenly anticipated, sadly for some women these events can bring anxiety and even risk.  For that reason our next national event on 20th July online is about keeping safe at events – a timely session designed to support women in getting all of the benefits from any event they attend, and go equipped to stay safe.  In August our national event is about leading in a pandemic and beyond – a brilliant topic for anyone in a leadership position in any capacity, then we have a decarbonisation event in September – such an important topic for the housing sector right now.  Regionally there are other events being planned too so remember you can register for all the national events if you’re a member plus your regional ones.

WISH was designed as a space for women in the social housing sector to meet, network and find their people – we are by women, for women.  Yet we know the pandemic has once again disproportionately affected women, especially mothers with children still at home.  Please help us to make sure all the women in the housing sector – private and public sector – know about us and can benefit from our work.  If someone has never been to a WISH event before, they can come to their first event for free to check it out – send them one of our mailings and they can get in touch. 

The next year is going to be a really exciting one for WISH – be a part of it, and bring a friend so they can be a part of it too.

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