Many D-Day veterans say the opening sequence of Saving Private Ryan is terrifyingly realistic in the way it captures the experience of the Normandy landings. Sea-sick soldiers packed shoulder to shoulder in tiny craft buffeted by huge waves; the intensity of the sounds, the smells, the sights. The trepidation. The fear.
As your craft reached the shore you knew there was no turning back; no sense in staying in your craft until it was hit; nowhere to go but into the water and onto the beach. You knew that you might not make it to dry land and that if you did it would be tough to make it up the open beach. But you knew this had to be done to secure a safe foothold for the thousands more who would follow behind you.
The old social housing world is over. The days when the tax payer would cover 80% of the cost of building a new house and then let us not only keep all the rent but increase it every year by RPI are over. The days when most of our rent was paid via another public subsidy – Housing Benefit – straight into our bank account….are coming to an end. The days when local authorities received Supporting People ‘gift cards’ worth millions of pounds, that they could only use to buy housing related support, are over too.
We can bemoan the passing of this world. We can stay in our landing craft and hope that the shelling will stop. We can argue with each other about what we should do.
Or we can be brave.
We can use our ingenuity and creativity; draw on our passion for changing lives, our passion for helping to remove the barriers faced by so many of our customers; barriers that prevent them from realising their dreams, their potential; and head up the beach.
Not all housing organisations will make it. Not all our ideas will work. Not all our new ventures will deliver the outcomes we hope for. Not all will prove financially viable. Not all our plans will deliver solutions that work for our customers, commissioners or society at large. But some will. They will make it up the beach and establish a hold. They will buy us time to develop more ideas and scale up the ones that have shown they work.
Now is not a time for looking back. Now is not a time for dwelling on what we’ve lost or what might have been. Now is not a time for faint hearts.
Now is a time to be brave.