On boarding the train from North Wales to Manchester at 7am on the Wednesday (the second day of the event) I had high expectations – I had been to the inaugural House Party event last year, had a blast and even blogged about it here.
For those who don’t know, this was the second year of House Party with the following summation of the event by the organisers:
The aim of HouseParty is to challenge, discuss and present the rising talent, organisations, ideas and innovation in UK housing and beyond. It’s a free space to debate, explore, network, connect and innovate.
Through Twitter I met up with Ade Capon (@adecapon) from Yorkshire Housing (of #housingday fame) at Piccadilly station in Manchester and we then walked over to the venue. Just how long does it take two fairly tech savy guys to find a venue using Googlemaps on a mobile? Quite a lot longer than it should have!
Upon arriving at the venue for #hseparty15, the Quaker House in Manchester, we were given our lanyard, grabbed a quick drink and went to our first session – the ‘H-Robots’ session run by Bromford Labs. In the session we were challenged to think about what a housing robot of the future could look like. The chatter in the room as the four groups decided what their robots would do and look like was mighty impressive first thing in the morning – our robot certainly wouldn’t have won any design prizes, but it made us think about what would be really important features – intuitive, human features (or not?), jargon free and basically being really useful all around. I know that Bromford Lab will be posting further thoughts and feedback from all of their #hseparty15 sessions, so watch this space.
We then went into a session with Anne McCrossan from Visceral Business, talking about Connecting Housing. As always, Anne was challenging, citing actual survey results like 33% of recently surveyed Housing Associations on digital self-service said that they didn’t know how many of their tenants were online. To say that the scale of problem is big is an understatement.
We then decided to pop over to the main CIH Housing exhibition hall to have a look around. The difference between the two events and more importantly the feel could not have been starker. The more intimate #hseparty15 contrasted with the much more corporate, ‘official’ feeling of the exhibition hall.
We were both dressed casually for #hseparty15 and we had more than a few strange looks for the suited and booted exhibition attendees when were wandering about. We bumped into a few people when wandering around the exhibition – Asif Choudry from Resource Housing (of #commshero fame) and Peter Bond, last year’s winner of the CIH Rising Stars competition. We also then spent some time talking to Jon Land and Brian Church on the 24Housing stand which is when this photo was taken by Jon and put on Twitter.
I guess we didn’t realise it at the time, but as #hseparty15 was about disrupting the norm in #ukhousing, I never thought that we were doing this in a real life, tangible way, in the main exhibition hall!
We then headed back over to #hseparty15 for a further Bromford Lab session titled #futurecomms asking us to distill down advice for future comms professionals into three do’s and three don’ts. It was great fun and really got the heart of why simple comms are so important.
The final session of the day was the Housing Question time (or #housingqt to use the hashtag). This was the chance to hear from and ask questions of (L-R):
– Paul Taylor (@paulbromford) from Bromford
– Caroline King (@caroline_torus) from Torus
– James Pargeter (@jamespargeter) from Deloitte Real Estate
– Chaired by Shirley Ayres (@shirleyayres)
– Anne McCrossan (@annemcx) from Visceral Business
– Nick Atkin (@nickatkin_hht) from Halton Housing Trust
It was a fantastic chance to hear from some heavy weight hitters from #ukhousing and thanks to John Popham (@johnpopham) you can see it recorded here.
We were then treated to a quick impromptu session from #hseparty15 organisers Matt Leach from HACT (@matt_leach) and Esther from The Social Change Agency (@SocialChangeAg) on a few ideas for next years event, like holding it on different dates, in a different venue and including more people in the event planning.
Hat’s off to Matt, Esther, the presenters and the helpers who made the event amazing, diverse and packed full of fun, with more than 85 sessions over the two days.
Whatever happens, I really hope that #hseparty16 is as good as #hseparty15, that it continues to be different to disrupt the normal conference offering and that it’s diverse and inclusive to everyone.