Reach for the Stars: my journey in social housing

Since June 2016, having produced a book called “Reach for the Stars: my journey in social housing”, my local world as I know it started to alter, and I was further pushed into the limelight and nationally recognized, when I received my Housing Heroes Award for Tenant Lifetime Contribution on the 27th June at the CIH ceremony.  


The awards dinner was attended by emh group’s CEO, Exec Director Corporate Services, Group Vice Chair, Communications Manager, a member of Staff, a Tenant and Myself, as a Group Board member.  This of course became a night I will always remember and was a very nice culmination of 15 years working as a Tenant Chair, Housing Association Chair, Board member of emh homes and emh group, plus other Chairs over many areas of involvement.


Sounds as though I took it all in my step and just got on with it…

“No way!” The feeling listening to the other people who had been selected for the final listing for this award, was they were all excellent, and every one deserved to receive it! 

But when Gyles Brandreth read the nominations out, he left me until last – and I took a large drink of wine and sat there quite sure one of the others had won. Suddenly my ears pricked up and I heard him mention 15 years! “Well I had done that” then involvement on a nation level on housing for the future, “I had done that”.

Suddenly the name was said “Colin Norman” is the winner. Shock, disbelief, amazement, and a rush of pleasure all happened in seconds. Congratulations all round!  Walk to the stage.  I received the award.  Photos everywhere.  Eventually I walked down the steps from the stage, still a little numb and shell shocked!  A photographer took me to the side.  More photos, then a walk back to my table.


My colleagues’ hugs, shaking of hand, euphoria all round – and more photos!  Moved around the room talking, getting congratulations. Then all the night’s winners were invited back on stage for a winners’ group photo, fists in the air then back to the table for more congratulations, networking and wine!


I talked to one or two other winners. Then suddenly the evening was coming to a close, so we set off to our hotel.  Met a group of people we knew - more congratulations and back in the hotel.  A night to remember!


The next morning the exec director and I went to a stand in the CIH Exhibition Hall and as a winner I was asked to give an account of why I won the award.  Then the audience asked questions and I think, between myself and the Exec director, we made a good impression to every one.


The three days spent at Manchester certainly put myself and emh group in the limelight and was very well received.  There was lots of coverage on social media too!


So by the Wednesday my world had changed I was an author, Award Winner and thinking that within 3 months I would finish as a group board member due to the rule stating that 9 years is the maximum time for a Board member to serve.


So I start to look for a new horizon for my future.  Brings you back to earth very quickly!

However I am proud to have received this and proud to have done all the things I have done and the tremendous experience gained in this time.  I will miss many staff and colleagues, but in my usual positive way I will find what I want in the future.  I am proud to have started the tenant participation structures in 2003 - that continues in the east midlands housing group. (emh group).