Cyril Davenport: A Conservative Co-operative Member’s Story
I was asked to put into words why I support and respect the work and aspirations of the Housing Co-operative movement.
Many years ago, When I first became involved with the CDS co-op housing movement, I had been unemployed for some time, was getting little or no interest from prospective employers due to my age, and because I had been out of work for some time.
My wife and daughter and I had been homeless for a time, living with family, and then becoming involved with the CDS / Housing Co-op Movement, which had an immediate effect on our lives.
Firstly a new home, and start, but the most important part was the “ The Training “, which gave a purpose to life, an effect that I was able to become a useful involved person again, giving me confidence again in my abilities, but also having something to show a third party what I had been doing.
My training gave me something to attach to a CV, to show, that whilst out of work I was still learning and trying to better myself, another factor was that being in a Co-op, you have a feeling that it’s your home and that of your fellow co-operators, a feeling of ownership and belonging.
I was elected by my co-op to become a member of the “ Then Housing Services sub-committee” in 1993, re named recently as “ The Residents services sub-committee “.
Then about 12 years ago, it was suggested that I put my name forward for election to the board as a tenant member, for a period of three years, I have remained on the board ever since, having just been re elected for the fifth time.
As a Conservative supporter, a little exploited fact is that CDS as the largest Co-operative housing group, in the South of England have built more homes under a Conservative Government than under a Labour government.
My real support for the CDS is because of the ethos of the Organization, of belonging to something with ideals, and wanting the residents to have this feeling of ownership and retention of interest in their homes and future, which I feel is the right way forward.
The Co-operative Development Society ( CDS ) has built some 70 different schemes in an area between Milton Keynes, Chelmsford, down to Kent in the South. Managing some 3000 plus homes, the schemes vary from general housing stock, to specialist stock, in East London we have a scheme for the Sylhet Moslem Community, to cluster homes in central and south London, to homes for Older people.
As an organization, they have on average a lower rent arrears figure than other housing organizations, a lower turnover of Residents, and a larger number of tenants who are happy with their homes.
As far as “ The CDS Co-op “ are concerned, big brother does not exist, its about giving people this sense of control, and involvement in the decisions which effects their lives. All residents are encouraged to become involved in the management of their home co-op, and are advised of opportunities in becoming elected to the various sub-committees, as nominees of their own co-op. Not people picked for their compliance and sheep like attitudes to follow the crowd. But, people who want to see good services, value for money, and care about the community.