Celebrating Chris Blackett!

Celebrating Chris Blackett!
Five minute read
Published: 31 May 2024

Chris Blackett is standing down as Chair of our Gateway Membership Team in September 2024. While we’re sad to see her go, we’re immensely proud of the things we’ve achieved together in her nine years leading the team.

Chris went from volunteering in a school helping children to read, to becoming Chair of the Stock Transfer Advisory Group in a very short space of time. She went from having no business qualifications to being a part of negotiations with Barclays in the Board Room when the council transferred its housing stock to Watford Community Housing in 2007.

It was during this transfer that Chris successfully championed the ‘community gateway’ model to her fellow tenants. Her influence ensured that Watford Community Housing was formed as a community gateway housing association, making it one of a very small number of housing providers that gives tenants more power to influence how the organisation is run, in comparison to most social housing residents across the country.

When asked about the transfer, Chris said: “I was so passionate about Watford Community Housing becoming a Gateway, and I still believe in the Gateway model as it is everything the White Paper says – tenants should have a say in how their homes are managed.” As Chair of the GMT for nine years in total, with a small break in the middle, Chris has contributed to some incredible things that have improved the lives of our residents. As a passionate advocate for social housing residents, she has consistently spoken up tenants and their best interests.

After the devastating death of two-year-old Awaab Ishak, who died as a result of direct exposure to mould in his home in Rochdale, this became an important topic for all housing providers and for the GMT. Chris ensured that tenants were able to share their personal experiences and suggest how we can improve the way we tackle damp and mould. These changes have been put into place, including streamlining the process so no cases get missed, and training for all our Customer Services staff.

She has also been instrumental in encouraging more residents to join the GMT and attend tenant question time events, and has helped to improve our out-of-hours process and the experience when people call us – making our services better for you.

The achievement that Chris is most proud of, not just over the last 12 months but over the last four years, is the Welfare Fund. What started out as a fund intended to support those struggling during the Covid-19 pandemic has proudly continued to support those most in need.

In recognition of her amazing work, Chris was also named as one of the ‘100 People Who Made Watford’ as part of Watford Borough Council’s centenary celebrations in 2022.

Sadly, Chris’s time with Watford Community Housing has come to an end, but we are very grateful for incredible work and passion she has put into supporting our residents for the last nine years.

When asked how she feels about coming to the end of her time on the GMT, Chris said, “Yes, it’s sad but I’m proud that I have been part of it, and I will always be a part of it in the background - at the AGM, in a tenancy resident group and in scrutiny sessions! I hope the organisation carries on doing fantastic work after I’m gone and that it is always pushing to make sure tenants are at the heart of everything they do.”

We are also pleased to announce that Chris has been shortlisted for three awards at the Women in Housing and Housing Heroes awards! We nominated Chris for ‘Board/Committee Member of the Year’, ‘Woman of the Year’, and ‘Tenant of the Year’. Winners will be announced at the Housing 2024 conference on 24 June – good luck, Chris!

If you would like to be like Chris and champion the voices of our residents, you should join the GMT.

Click here to find out more!

Here are some of Chris's highlights: