Inside Housing names BAME editorial panel members

Inside Housing has unveiled the names of the 11 people who will sit on its new BAME editorial panel. The inaugural members come from across the social housing sector.

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Inside Housing names 11 people on new BAME editorial panel

The panel will hold virtual meetings on a regular basis to feed into the magazine’s content and coverage going forward. The panel will aim to improve Inside Housing’s coverage of diversity, provide ideas for stories and research, and hold the magazine accountable for delivering the Inclusive Futures agenda.

Inside Housing editor Martin Hilditch said: “I’m delighted to reveal the names today of Inside Housing’s inaugural BAME editorial panel.

“As our own research has shown, there is still a significant problem with structural inequality in the housing sector. The purpose of the panel is to improve our own coverage of diversity, providing ideas for stories and research, and challenging Inside Housing and holding us accountable for delivery.

“The 11 panel members bring a range of experience to the table, working in a variety of different roles for a mix of organisations, and I look forward to working with them to drive Inside Housing’s coverage moving forward.”

The panel members are:

  • Adunni Adams, head of delivery at Catalyst
  • Farida Aslam, senior neighbourhoods manager (services to older people & community investment) at Vale of Glamorgan Council
  • Cym D’Souza, chief executive of Arawak Walton Housing Association and chair of BME National
  • Sian Edwards, temporary accommodation team lead (PLS & hostels) at Kingston Council
  • Lorri Holding, head of customer services at Warrington Housing Association
  • Shahi Islam, head of affordable housing at Homes England
  • Dilip Kavi, chief executive of PA Housing
  • Olu Olanrewaju, associate director of Altair International
  • Jahanara Rajkoomar, director of community investment at Metropolitan Thames Valley
  • Jitinder Takhar, chief executive of Homes for Lambeth
  • Rosalind Ugwu, independent consultant

More about the panel members:

Adunni Adams, head of delivery at Catalyst

Adunni Adams, head of delivery at Catalyst

Having joined Catalyst in 2017, Adunni Adams has been head of delivery for the past 18 months. In her role, she leads a team managing a multi-tenure development delivery programme with projects across London and the South East. She is passionate about delivering homes people love, emphasising high-quality materials and work standards across all her projects. She has over 17 years’ experience in the sector, having worked in a number of roles at A2Dominion.

She is currently leading on the delivery of Catalyst’s regeneration of the Wornington Green Estate in North Kensington, as well as the redevelopment of the Webbs Industrial Estate (also known as Blackhorse Yard) in Waltham Forest, working in collaboration Swan Housing.

Adunni recently joined New London Architecture’s expert panel on housing, which focuses on developing thought leadership around the design and delivery of housing in the capital and looks at issues from improving quality of living, accessibility and well-being, public sector delivery, the private rented sector, housing tenure and modern methods of construction.

Outside of housing, Adunni is heavily involved with the Notting Hill Carnival and sits as chair on an advisory council to the carnival organisers.

Farida Aslam, senior neighbourhoods manager (services to older people & community investment) at Vale of Glamorgan Council

Farida Aslam, senior neighbourhoods manager (services to older people & community investment) at Vale of Glamorgan Council

Farida Aslam originally was recruited as part of a Positive Action post funded by the Legal Services Commission to train as a legal advisor in social welfare law. She then moved on to work on a transnational pan Wales-European project operating in Wales, Spain, Finland and Holland, which looked at whether xenophobia and racism were an barrier to people of ethnic minorities seeking employment.

Farida subsequently started her career in Wales in housing over 15 years ago with a housing association, initially leading tenant engagement and participation work, and then moved on to a role in which she led and developed the organisation’s money advice service and employment and skills service.

Farida was appointed by the minister of housing and communities in Wales to sit on the Welsh Financial Inclusion Steering Group, after which she move to a role within a local authority in London to lead their financial inclusion strategy and welfare reform work.

Farida currently works as a senior manager within a local authority in Wales and her role currently involves the housing management functions, leading on community investment and involvement and service to older people.

Cym D’Souza, chief executive of Arawak Walton Housing Association and chair of BME National

Cym D’Souza, chief executive of Arawak Walton Housing Association and chair of BME National

Cym D’Souza became chief executive of Arawak Walton Housing Association in 1998. She is a qualified chartered accountant and sits on the Strategic Housing Partnerships in Manchester, Trafford and Stockport.

She is also chair of BME National, the umbrella group for more than 35 BAME housing associations which aims to promote equality and diversity in the provision of housing and support services. BME National works with the National Housing Federation.

Cym sits on the advisory group for the North West Housing Forum and the Greater Manchester Housing Providers Partnership. She has also been a member of the Greater Manchester Police’s ethics committee since 2014.

Sian Edwards, temporary accommodation team lead (PLS & hostels) at Kingston Council

Sian Edwards, temporary accommodation team lead (PLS & hostels) at Kingston Council

Sian Edwards works at Kingston Council as a temporary accommodation team leader (PLS & Hostels). She has worked in the housing sector for six years, during that time she has worked in a variety of roles such as housing options and private sector schemes (procurement of long-term temporary accommodation and the private sector).

At the current time, Sian is the youngest BAME manager in housing at the Kingston Council and hopes that she can inspire others from the BAME community to get into management.

In her spare time, Sian is a freelance drama workshop leader and teaches children from ages of 4+, which is something that she is very passionate about as she helps young people to enhance their confidence and communication with others.

Joining the BAME editorial panel is very exciting and something that Sian is very much looking forward to and hopes that she can use this platform to create a forum/working group for other BAME managers to share ideas.

Shahi Islam, head of affordable housing at Homes England

Shahi Islam, head of affordable housing at Homes England

Shahi Islam is the head of affordable housing grants at Homes England and is responsible for the delivery framework of the Affordable Homes Programme (AHP). His role covers the management of around £5.5bn grant investment across a number of programmes including the AHP, the Care and Support Programme, the Move On Fund and the Community Housing Fund – working within a national remit across England.

He has been involved in the development and implementation of new funding programmes, strategic partnerships and social rent and the policy lead for shared ownership.

Shahi has over 15 years’ experience in housing, working in roles covering delivery, policy, strategy and programme management. He has worked at Homes England for the past seven years, working on the delivery and development of the AHP, specialist housing and historical grant.

Prior to Homes England, Shahi worked at the Greater London Authority, working on the London housing strategy and investment policy, and also worked at several London local authorities. He started his career in the London investment team at The Housing Corporation.

Dilip Kavi, chief executive of PA Housing

Dilip Kavi, chief executive of PA Housing

Dilip Kavi oversaw the amalgamation of his former organisation, Paragon Community Housing – where he has been chief executive since 2011 – and BME housing association Asra in 2017. He has more than 30 years’ strategic and operational experience in a range of sectors, including many years in car manufacturing, the majority of which were spent at Jaguar Land Rover.

In housing, Dilip found the opportunity to improve the lives of people from a wide range of backgrounds, and he is most passionate about listening to PA Housing’s customers and delivering the homes and services they want and need. He is a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants and holds an MBA.

Olu Olanrewaju, associate director at Altair International

Olu Olanrewaju, associate director at Altair International

Olu Olanrewaju is a member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, has an MBA from Kingston University and is part of the Directors Programme at Cranfield School of Management.

He is currently associate director of Altair International. Altair provides advice and support on a wide range of issues related to the development, funding, governance and management of affordable housing across the globe. Olu’s recent assignments include Kigali green city pilot in Rwanda, setting up a new housing fund in Nigeria, rural housing modelling in Kyrgyzstan and setting up of a new urban park entity in Beira, Mozambique.

He has had significant experience of leading major housing companies in the UK. He was chief executive of Bristol-based housing association United Communities, managing director at Birmingham-based Midland Heart, managing director of Genesis (now Notting Hill Genesis), executive director of operations at East Thames (now merged with L&Q), and member of the executive at L&Q.

He was until recently chair of Inquilab Housing Association. Olu is currently chair designate of Leadership 2025 and chair of Altwood Housing Group, a family-owned private property development and management company based in London.

Jahanara Rajkoomar, director of community investment at Metropolitan Thames Valley

Jahanara Rajkoomar, director of community investment at Metropolitan Thames Valley

Making a difference to people who are socially disadvantaged or excluded is Jahanara Rajkoomar’s primary motivator and has defined her career to date. She has over 20 years’ experience in social welfare work, having started this journey at the Citizens Advice while studying law. This influenced her career direction to focus on addressing social exclusion on an individual and community basis in the voluntary sector, moving over to housing after the 2008 financial crash.

This still remains a huge passion: trying to make a difference to people in a way that is meaningful to them. She brought this commitment into the housing sector for over 10 years in a variety of roles and has used her experience and knowledge to influence how housing can play a role in enabling customers to be better tenants and take control of their lives.

Jahanara is an advocate of ensuring that we as a sector meaningfully engage and listen to our residents’ voices in the things that matter to them. She thrives under challenge and has a success and values-driven work ethic that means she adopts creative approaches to resolve longstanding issues. The values-based work she does means that work is a big part of her identity.

She is passionate about addressing inherent systemic inequality that some people face personally and professionally. She is an accredited internal coach and has mentored female and BAME colleagues to see and reach their potential.

Jahanara is obsessed with sci-fi and her soul is fed by music and dancing – she has a reputation for hosting very good parties.

Jitinder Takhar, chief executive of Homes for Lambeth

Jitinder Takhar, chief executive of Homes for Lambeth

Jitinder Takhar has been in the housing sector for almost 30 years. She started her career in the South West and in 2016 took up her first chief executive role in London. She is currently chief executive of Homes for Lambeth, which will see the rebuilding of estates to provide more and better housing.

During her career, Jitinder has served on various housing association boards as well as regional boards of both the Chartered Institute of Housing and the National Housing Federation.

As well as being passionate about providing quality homes for those in greatest need, she enjoys nurturing talent to create the next generation of inclusive and visionary leadership. Jitinder’s ambition is to help the housing sector become an exemplary profession where talent, diversity and inclusivity meet regularly.

Rosalind Ugwu, independent consultant

Rosalind Ugwu, independent consultant

Rosalind Ugwu has worked in social housing for over 30 years, gaining experience as a senior manager in neighbourhood management, strategic development, transformation and change management.

As a seasoned housing professional, she is passionate about developing innovative and systemic change through the anti-racist agenda.

In addition to undertaking an MSc in systems thinking in practice, Rosalind loves the great outdoors, playing golf, digging at her allotment and walking in muddy forests.

Lorri Holding, head of customer services at Warrington Housing Association

Lorri Holding, head of customer services at Warrington Housing Association

Lorri Holding has worked in the supported and social housing sector for over 25 years, commissioning and developing a range of specialist young and older persons support and accommodation services across the North West.

Prior to leading the customer and housing services department at Warrington Housing Association, Lorri worked as a strategic housing consultant for a number of specialist housing providers and charities whose focus was complex needs clients leaving long-term critical medical care or social services support within Greater Manchester.

She has sat on a range of boards over the years, more recently Arawak Walton Housing Association in Manchester, where she also chaired the remuneration and selection committee for nine years, and Alpha Homes, a specialist provider in the Wirral.

In her down time, Lorri volunteers for a number of LGBT and homelessness charities as well as the weekend street support team in Manchester City Centre, all of which work directly with those affected by homelessness, illness and mental health issues.

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