Arhag All Together Day: A residents’ conference to remember

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

On a sunny Saturday last month, we met up to celebrate the Arhag All Together Day; our annual residents' conference hosted at Stratford Town Hall. We reflect on why residents travelled from all over London to meet, connect, and share with our Arhag community.

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As the Town Hall clock struck ten, residents were greeted by the Arhag team and gifted a welcome pack, equipping them for the day ahead. Introductions and long overdue catchups took place in equal measure while guests took their seats upstairs in the main hall.

Chief Executive Chris Harris kicked off proceedings, sending a warm welcome and speaking openly about Arhag’s journey to date, including the progress made since we were last all in a room together. Testament was paid to how we have all navigated through challenging and testing times, emerging as a stronger more resilient community since.

Ultimately, Chris’ message was one of positivity and optimism for the months and years ahead – excited by the strides Arhag is making to succeed as an excellent provider of housing, delivering for its customers, and developing the potential of migrants and refugees.

Together, we shared and celebrated some of Arhag’s proudest achievements over the past year. Including welcoming Reena as Chair of the Board, along with the vital role the Resident Scrutiny Panel played in recruiting for this position. And, partnering with new repairs and maintenance contractors, creating efficiencies which directly improve the service residents experience on the ground. While recognition was given to Arhag’s progress in developing a clear voice, both internally among its own community, and externally as a leader in the social housing sector.

Opening notes delivered, the audience was treated to inspiring words from new Chair of the Board, Reena Purchase. Reena spoke about her wealth of experience as a leader in the not-for-profit sector, and what has motivated her to devote much of her adult working life to improving social housing provision and supporting others through personal positive change.

Syeda Miah, our Chair of the Resident Scrutiny Panel (RSP), kindly shared the importance of resident representation in the decision-making process. Also, how involvement in the RSP has opened new doors for her, creating opportunities and long-lasting experiences with the inspiring people she has worked with. Importantly, Syeda’s message was a call to action – if you are interested in getting involved in the resident scrutiny panel, reach out, speak with us, and we will welcome you with open arms.

We were privileged to be among Ben Laryea, Chair of the BME London Landlords and Chief Executive of Ekaya Housing Association, who joined us on the day to deliver an excellent speech.

Ben shared what it took to get where he is today, navigating multiple twists and turns – from making it as a professional footballer only to be beset with injury. To, how his formative years and the opportunities he had growing up were rooted in the solid foundations from having access to the provision of good social housing.

Ben spoke on the importance of representation at every level, while especially important among the senior leadership of organisations. And, while the social housing sector has made considerable progress in the last twenty-years, there is still a long way to go for parity.

As we returned from a refreshments break, residents met and spoke with representatives from our new contractor partners, K&T Heating and MNM Property Services. Advisors and experts were also on hand to offer support with topics such as financial management and debt advice. The hall filled with a general buzz of conversation as local caterers Naddee’s started to present the lunch that had been cooking away all morning.

Needless to say, lunch was enjoyed by all. Just in time for the raffle, children returned from the ‘create a play in a day’ morning, which was hosted downstairs by a local theatre performance production group. Our very own Board member Patricia drew the prizes which had been generously donated by our partners.

As the day drew to a close, friends old and new said their goodbyes for now. Chris Harris, shares his final thoughts on the All Together Day:

“I’m proud to have been a part of what was a great, memorable day. It is testament to the hard work of our Resident Scrutiny Panel and staff who worked tirelessly to pull this off – a huge thank you to you. Again, thank you to Ben who inspired us all by sharing his story, to our contractors who engaged brilliantly, and to our residents for coming together to represent our community”.

Experience the joyous moments of our Arhag All Together Day by exploring the full album here.