For the second time in four years, the chair of Tenants First Housing Co-operative has been awarded the Helen McGregor Award as the ‘Committee Member of the Year’ by EVH, a trade association for Scottish Housing Associations.
This year’s winner was j’, who is in her second year as chair of Tenants First. Her predecessor Martin van der Lee won the award four years ago. The award was presented to j’ by Fraser Doherty, the young entrepreneur who has built up the SuperJam business he started as a teenager.
It was in 2006 that j’ joined not just the committee of management of Tenants First, but also all of the sub committees. It seemed logical to her to become involved with the co-operative that had given her a home and a chance to rebuild her life.
J’ was nominated for the award by Martin van der Lee. He believed that j’s story shows how becoming a member of the co-operative gave her a new opportunity to put past deprivations behind her and to build her confidence.
In his nomination, Martin says he has seen j’ grow from a reticent, retiring individual when she first sat in on a meeting to become a confident, thoughtful chair person guiding the development of the co-operative. As chair, j’ has overseen a period of substantial growth for Tenants First Housing Co-operative, particularly with the launch of the Donside development in Aberdeen.
In his nomination, Martin also notes how her passion for the co-operative is matched by a passion for all aspects of housing and innovation in particular. This has led her to study architecture and she is now in the third year of her studies to become an architect.
Tenants First, based in Aberdeen, is Britain’s largest housing co-operative with 1,396 properties in Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire, Angus and Glasgow. Tenants First is a non-profit organisation owned and run by its members for the benefit of members.