A true pioneer for tenant involvement
The Welsh Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Report into the regulation of Housing Associations was issued this week.
The committee placed strong emphasis on empowering tenants by providing accessible information and tools to enable better scrutiny and a stronger tenant voice.
Hafod tenant and social pioneer Shirley Sansom has been championing the cause of tenants and getting their voices heard in Wales for nearly 50 years.
Jas, our chief executive, and Shirley responded to the report:
As a founder member of the Welsh Tenants Federation and Tenants Participatory Advice Service (TPAS) Cymru, Shirley has been hugely influential in changing the way tenants and landlords work together.
In 1970, Shirley became involved in a campaign to change the obsolete central heating on her estate and became an active tenant for the first time.
The landlord had failed to listen to concerns and Shirley discovered that tenants in other areas were experiencing similar problems. They joined together to form the South Wales Association of Tenants and found that collectively they could make a difference and secure positive results for their communities. She hasn’t looked back since.
Shirley has chaired and sat on several boards and has received numerous awards for her dedication and passion including a nomination for Welsh Woman of the Year.
Her commitment was particularly evident when she was banned from the House of Commons for seven years for being part of a group who disrupted a Welsh Select Committee to protest about the state of housing in Wales!
Shirley is very well-known and respected in the housing sector in Wales. Keith Edwards, housing consultant and former Director of TPAS and CIH Cymru commented:
“Shirley was my Chair when I joined TPAS Cymru in 1990 and I already knew of her through her work with the South Wales Association of Tenants. It’s easy to forget now just how difficult it was for tenants to get their voices heard back then.
Shirley was amongst a small group of pioneering tenants – including Mary Hayes of Taff Housing and Ashley Williams of the Glyntaff Farm Estate – who we all owe a lot to. Their determination to give tenants a real say in how their homes and communities were managed not only inspired the creation of the tenant movement but changed the way landlords and tenant worked together forever. She played a leading role in setting up both the Welsh Tenants Federation and TPAS Cymru.
Anyone who knows Shirley understands that she has a lifelong commitment to empowering people whose voices are not usually heard and that she is forthright and uncompromising in her commitment to equality and social justice.”
Shirley moved to her current Hafod home in Penarth in 2004 and couldn’t be more actively involved with the association. She sits on three of the association's Boards and is a Tenant Assessor.
Jas Bains, chief executive of Hafod, echoed Keith's comments. He said:
“Shirley has been at the forefront of tenant involvement for close to 50 years and has made a huge contribution to the movement. We are very lucky to have her, both as a tenant and a Board member. She always brings valuable challenge and helps keep us grounded and focused firmly on the needs of our tenants.”
We have lots of options for our tenants to get involved, please get in touch to find out more.
Shirley receiving one of her many awards from Keith Edwards, housing consultant and former Director of TPAS Cymru and CIH Cymru.