The UK Housing Awards Protest – 25th November 2021
Housing association executives were unexpectedly forced to do the ‘walk of shame’ through protestors as they arrived at the UK Housing Awards at the InterContinental Hotel in Greenwich.
The protest started outside North Greenwich tube station, with speakers including Clarion campaigner Kwajo Tweneboa, Unite Housing Workers Branch Secretary Paul Kershaw, and Homes for All activist Morag Gillie.
The protest was also supported across the housing campaign sector, including Action for Fire Safety Justice, Radical Housing Network, London Renters Union, and Fuel Poverty Action Group.
Truus Jansen accepted a Golden Toilet award on behalf of One Housing Group for their decision to merge with Riverside. Kwajo Tweneboa accepted it on behalf of Carion for having brought the entire sector into disrepute with the appalling conditions of squalor in their homes.
Groups brought colourful banners and placards to catch the attention of commuters. This included a sixty-foot long demand for ‘Public Housing Not Private Profit’.
Protestors then marched to the hotel where housing association, council and corporate executives intended to congratulate themselves and share gongs. They were met with a road blockade and chants of ‘shame on you’, as they were forced to disembark and walk through the picket line.
Various protestors filmed the event and caught the mood of the demonstration.
The executives were handed copies of a leaflet explaining why protestors were so angry at the award ceremony.
Many took copies of the leaflet and although some were immediately binned, many attendees read them or took them into the ceremony.
The protest was covered by The Big Issue in their article Social housing tenants block roads in protest outside £345-a-head UK Housing Awards.
MyLondon also reported that Housing award guests laugh in faces of tenants ‘living in squalor with s*** running down their walls’.
27 November 2021
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own.
1 thought on “Housing Association Execs’ Walk of Shame”
This year’s UKHousing Awards at the plush Intercontinental Hotel located beside the 02 arena on Greenwich Peninsular didn’t quite go as planned. At least not as the organizers , InsideHousing and CIH , and the Social Housing CEO’s, sector big wigs and other officialy invited attendees planned anyway as instead of receiving a big warm red carpet welcome upon arrival and being swished into the Intercontinental’s sumptuous ballroom to wine and dine the night away in a blur of alcohol fuelled mindless self-importance and narcissistic self-praise those attending were confronted by scores of angry protestors from SHAC, Action or Fire Safety Justice and tenants, residents and leaseholders of various social landlords who, fed up with the sector’s patronising and contemptuous attitude towards them in a year where even the mainstream media had highlighted the sector’s failings and abuses , had blockaded the main approach road to the hotel behind a huge ‘ Public Housing not Private Profit ‘ banner forcing attendees to decant from their marooned limos, taxis and charter coaches into the freezing night and be herded into groups by hotel concierge and door staff to run the gauntlet in their hired tuxedos ,ball gowns and heels.
It certainly wasn’t the reception they expected .
It was hilarious to watch – it’s not often that tenants, residents, leaseholders and workers get to see powerful arrogant social landlords take much notice of them – but far more importantly it reminded the sector , whose corporate leadership has ruthlessly exploited the pandemic to remotely regroup and cynically create and network false impressions of its ‘heroic’ achievements and success during the lockdown period , that times have changed and that social housing workers , tenants, residents and leaseholders are no longer prepared to silently put up with being treated with contempt , bullied , stigmatised , placed in harms way or financially ruined by a sector that has clearly lost sight of its original social purpose and now simply serves its own greed and other non and even anti-social ends.
The cost of these relentless self praising awards ceremonies have been highlighted elsewhere on this site and on social media – e.g. four grand for poseur table sittings , etc – however our collective job is to hammer home the true cost of the social housing sector leadership’s appalling behaviour on those who bear the brunt of it and to hold the huge powerful corporate psychopathic social landlords and smaller providers who attempt to mimic them to account.
No one organization or group is equipped to take on this task on its own and so we also need to more effectively network to ensure that we develop and maintain the ability to push for safe and affordable public housing and demonstrate and openly oppose when and where we need to as we know that the moment the sector and its toothless regulators , local politicians and decision makers and the Government feel the pressure is off , things will just revert back to corporate psychopathic business as usual. This isnt a criticism of our efforts to date, it’s a fact.
We can’t organize largescale demonstrations all the time but we can work better at keeping the pressure up and helping each other to target cover and as far as we are able to mobilize around key events, organizations, institutions and individuals as and where necessary. This year we’ve genuinely had the media onside for a while but that’s not something we can take for granted. The sector leadership clearly hopes if not believes that the media will move on. And it will if we don’t keep up the pressure and share the responsibility of drawing public attention to the issues ourselves through direct action. We also need to up the pressure on the regulatory bodies and local and central Government departments. We need them to weary of the utter contempt so many social landlords have for the very people they claim to serve too.
It was also very disappointing that so few people attending the UKHousing Awards last week bothered to even try to interact with and listen to us. I only heard one person attending the awards genuinely try to express some solidarity with protestors . Their remoteness during the pandemic even as so many providers talked up how supportive they’d been clearly had something to do with the level of contempt we were shown .The fact is though, many of the people who obliviously wined and dined at the 2021 UKHousing Awards at the Intercontinental are going to fall victim to the new social housing culture of even more remote corporately psychopathic management honed during the pandemic. We know this. Their vacuous awards and memories of living the high life at our expense wont help protect them then. The champagne will continue to flow at executive level of course but not their way. They’ll also be left outside in the cold . We need to hammer home that message too. They ignore the shit running down the walls, the cladding scandal, the bullying, the discrimination, the lack of safety and respect for people and the abandonment of the orginal social purpose and values of the sector at their own peril.