PiLON’s South East WISH Comes True

Women in Social Housing (WISH), is the only membership-based network for women working across the affordable housing and construction sectors. The organisation, which has grown organically since its inception in 1998, now has nine regional boards across the UK and over 500 members. Some 3,000 women and men support it and attend its events.

PiLON’s Head of New Business, Melissa Woodall, is the Chair of the newly formed WISH South East region board. Being a member of the WISH London region for four years and living and working in the South East – an hour and a half away from London – she sensed a geographical gap to plug. Working alongside Shirley Heapy, Associate Director at GL Hearn, (part of Capita Real Estate and Infrastructure) and Vice-Chair of the South East Board, Melissa helped set up the new region, covering Kent & Sussex.

The SE region was officially launched with a successful event at Ebbsfleet United Football Club which was attended by over 100 guests who showed a great deal of interest when signing up to the new region.

Guest speakers Chyrel Brown, Director of Resident Services at Hyde Group, Theresa Mohammed, Events Manager for WISH’s London region and Deborah McLaughlin, Managing Director of GL Hearn and former Executive Director for the North West at the Homes and Communities Agency, talked about their experiences working within the sector.

“As long-time sponsors of WISH and all that it stands for, we’re delighted to be amongst so many current and previous clients, colleagues and like-minded professionals at the launch event for the South East region. The speakers were very entertaining, at the same time as passing on useful tips, and delivering inspiring messages.” Angela Lemon, Partner at calfordseaden.

“What a great event, the launch of WISH South East gives women working in social housing in the region a fantastic opportunity to collaborate and to access meaningful debate and engagement with fellow professionals through events and networking.” Jess Haines, Head of Commercial Business at Lewes & Eastbourne Councils.

The cornerstones of the WISH vision are to encourage more women to choose careers in housing and construction and to address career progression for women within the sectors, challenging stereotypes and encouraging successful behaviour. Having housing refurbishment specialists PiLON recognise and bridge this gap has been a great initiative.

WISH’s Executive Director and co-founder Nicola Dibb welcomed the addition of a ninth region. She added: “The industry’s gender complexion now is very different to when WISH was set up just over 20 years ago and it is proud to be part of that legacy of change but there is still work to be done if we are to truly combat inequality and break down the barriers that are holding women back. The addition of a new network will help us to reach out to more women working within housing and construction and to make changes from within the sectors.”

“When I went to my first event I was so impressed at how open and inclusive it was. It was such a breath of fresh air to be in a room with more women than men. Our launch event was all about setting the direction of travel and attendees were asked about what they want to get out of their membership and what they want to learn themselves. We want to make sure that it is a member-driven region.” Melissa Woodall, WISH SE Chair, PiLON Head of New Business

For more information on how to join the South East branch of WISH should contact Melissa at melissa.woodall@pilon.co.uk