Some more memories of my early days in housing, following my experiences in Liverpool City Council earlier in the 70s. More like a campaign than working.

So itís late 1975 and Iíve finally managed to talk my way into Liverpool Housing Trust. Iím still at University, but my sociology degree isnít taking up all of my time or interest, so Iím happy to start volunteering for LHT.

ĎThe Trustí as everyone calls it, had been helped into existence ten years earlier by Shelter, part of the reaction to the housing crisis highlighted by Ken Loachís film, ĎCathy Come Home.í Most of the work in these early days has been around the Canning and Granby areas of Liverpool 8.

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A great deal of this area has been blighted by Liverpool City Councilís plans (never realised) to build an inner ring road through what had been a much larger Canning area.

So I arrive in Falkner Square when there are, from memory, around 25 people working there, on the ground floors and basements of numbers 38 and 39 (with tenants living upstairs). But my first workplace is in fact round the corner, in 78 Canning Street. I am the ĎDevelopment Departmentí along with my first boss, Jack Coutts. We are separated from the rest of the Trust by derelict 40 Falkner Square, which wonít be done up for a couple of years yet. Nearby, the terraced streets of Granby are relatively settled compared to Canning.

But as Iím arriving The Trustís horizons are about to widen. Thereís been a Housing Act passed in 1974 which for the first time looks like bringing serious money into refurbishing houses. (Up to this time, for example, LHT has been Ďimprovingí houses in Granby for around £2,000. Simply not enough, and storing up big problems for the future.)

As well as the Housing Act, Liverpool City has started its ĎHousing Action Areasí policy, to determinedly Ďdo upí targetted areas of streets. And at the same time, and hardly a coincidence, several large scale private landlords have decided to sell up their housing portfolios and leave the field clear to LHT and the other Liverpool housing associations to do all the improvement works they were never going to get round to.

So I walk into a place thatís not only got a reputation as the great campaigning housing association. Itís also one thatís about to be given the means to do the things it says most need doing. So far weíve concentrated on emergency housing for people in truly desperate situations. Now our job widens to renovating whole areas, potentially for thousands of people.

The next five years are as exciting as Ďhaving a jobí will ever prove to be for me. Because itís not really like Ďhaving a jobí at all, itís more like being in a campaign.


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