Habinteg has appointed the former Chair of RNIB, Eleanor Southwood MBE, as its new Chair. Eleanor will take up the role from December 2021, starting with a handover period with outgoing chair Manny Lewis.
As Cabinet Member for Housing at a London borough, Eleanor has hands-on experience of the issues facing social housing providers, including the building safety agenda and the demands of decarbonisation. She also has first-hand experience of the challenges disabled people face when seeking suitable housing, gained from both her work with RNIB and through her own lived experience as a disabled person.
The appointment follows Manny Lewis’ seven-year tenure during which time Habinteg has re-entered development and led the way with award-winning campaign work calling for higher accessibility standards in new homes.
Habinteg CEO, Nick Apetroaie said.
“I’m looking forward to working with Eleanor to build on Habinteg’s 50 years of pioneering work building and managing inclusive and accessible homes.
“Eleanor brings a vast range of experience across private, charity, local government and social housing sectors. Her passion for creating a fairer and more equitable society where everyone can live a full and fulfilling life, really inspires me. I believe she will help Habinteg to become a role model housing association, and drive our campaigning for truly accessible environments for all.
“I would also like to thank Manny Lewis, our outgoing chair, for his leadership and stewardship over the past seven years. Manny’s commitment and dedication to Habinteg’s mission, values and purpose was one of the key factors in me deciding to join the organisation.
Manny Lewis said:
“I’m delighted that my successor is such a great fit for Habinteg’s unique mission providing and promoting accessible and inclusive homes. I have no doubt that her past governance experience at the helm of RNIB along with her personal experience and established knowledge of the social housing sector will make her a strong leader and an insightful advocate for Habinteg and its customers across the country.”
Eleanor joins Habinteg as the organisation is developing a new four-year Corporate Strategy. Responding to the announcement of her new role, she said:
“There is a desperate need for more accessible and inclusive housing and demand is likely to increase. I am looking forward to building on Habinteg’s impressive history of raising and embedding accessibility standards across the housing sector. The organisation has the potential to make a huge difference.
Habinteg’s values resonate strongly with me and I’m excited to build on its clear commitment to listening to tenants and working with them to improve services. I’m really keen to see us explore how more digital engagement can ensure we hear from the full, diverse range of tenants and build our customers’ confidence and trust.
“Strengthening our reputation as a good landlord will be the foundation for the organisations vital influencing work pushing for lasting change that creates a more inclusive and accessible society. I’m really looking forward to being part of the next chapter in Habinteg’s story.”