Sunday, 23 November 2014

As someone who lives in a council home and is proud to do so, I get sick of negative stereotypes of council tenants.

I am, therefore, very pleased to have been involved in a new Association of Retained Council Housing publication entitled Home truths: tenants’ tales of council housing, which was launched yesterday at the ARCH annual tenants’ conference in Milton Keynes.

Home truths describes council tenants and their homes as they really are and not as the media makes them out to be. Council tenants have all too often been wrongly portrayed as somehow second class and living on grotty estates beset by anti-social behaviour. It’s time for a better, more realistic image for council housing that shows council tenants are no different to anyone else.

This is why we wanted ordinary residents in local authority homes across England to tell their stories in this booklet. People such as 82-year-old community champion Rene Brown from Birmingham; Maria Hason, who runs a charity for terminally ill people from her south Derbyshire council bungalow; my neighbour here in West Lancashire, Mandy Hardwick, who works as a cook in a local special school and says she wouldn’t move even if she won the lottery. Or families in North Kesteven, who are overjoyed to move into new, eco-friendly homes.

The ARCH Tenants’ Group ensures the views of those of us who live in stock-retained council housing are heard. We are not claiming for a minute that everything is perfect. There are certainly challenges ahead. But we believe council housing can provide a secure base upon which to build lives for individuals, families and communities and we wanted to demonstrate the more upbeat side of life in council homes.

Jennifer Holmes is chair of ARCH Tenants’ Group