Tribute to Cora Carter

Tuesday 8th of November 2016

Jenny Osbourne, chief executive of Tpas pays tribute to Cora Carter, tenant volunteer at Kirklees Neighbourhood Housing

It’s with great sadness that we heard the news last week that Cora Carter, MBE, had passed away after battling illness. I know 100% that we will not see her like again. She was a genuine one off, a force to be reckoned with and a wonderfully funny and warm woman to boot.

Cora lived in Huddersfield and was a tenant and board member of Kirklees Neighbourhood Housing as well as a driving force locally in her community through her local TARA and KFTRA (Kirklees Federation of Tenants and Residents Associations). Many of you will also have met her through her work with Taroe and the International Union of Tenants too.

I think that’s what I admired most about Cora. Her commitment to championing tenants ran the whole way through from street level, estate level, board, regionally, nationally and internationally. And all done in the same forthright, compassionate and knowledgeable way. She spoke from the heart and she spoke the truth. She knew what communities could achieve if they were given the chance to do so. She never shied away from criticising landlords. But she wanted to work in partnership with them too to achieve so much more. That championing and campaigning took her to the heart of power many many times to talk directly to Ministers and MP’s. As she once said to Michelle Reid, Tpas previous Chief Executive, she had those conversations of behalf of her neighbours  and fellow tenants who perhaps didn’t have the chance or confidence to speak out about their circumstances. She saw it as an honour to do it on their behalf.

My fondest memories of Cora are from Tpas regional meetings. She was a great supporter of these and sat on the committee for the northern region many years ago. At the heart of what she always wanted Tpas to do was get more people involved, inspire them and for tenants across the country to learn from each other. I would certainly know about it if she felt the presentations or the meetings were not up to scratch! She was too no nonsense for spin or self congratulatory words. She wanted to hear about projects that actually did make a difference to the communities they were based in.

She was a fantastic advocate for tenants in this country. We all owe her a lot. And we certainly owe her the respect to keep championing for social housing and for tenants despite all the challenges we face at the moment.  It was a tenure she loved.

So next time we feel downhearted about housing policy or feel our tenant involvement plans or thoughts are not being listened to, think Cora, and keep on going. That’s the greatest tribute I think we can all pay her.