Proud Eden tenant presents at national conference and visits Kew Gardens

18th November 2015

Ian Douthwaite, an Eden Housing Association (EHA) tenant, was invited to speak at a national housing and health conference in London. He was one of only four tenants across the country who spoke, contributing to the theme ‘Proud to be a tenant’. Ian made a real impact with his presentation and was also been asked to be involved in #nationalhousingday held today (Wednesday 18th November).

PlaceShapers is a network of more than 100 housing associations, who all share a community focus and a commitment to put residents at the heart of what they do, principles that make them more than just a social landlord. This year their national conference wanted to hear from tenants from across the country. Eden Housing Association approached Ian Dowthwaite, asking him if he would be prepared to share his tenant journey at the conference – he was delighted to accept.

Ian’s presentation captivated the audience who heard about his tenant history with Eden Housing Association. Ian, his wife and two children became EHA tenants in 1999, having been made redundant from the pub he ran with his wife Pauline. Unfortunately it meant they lost their home too. With impending homelessness, the family contacted EHA who found them a family home in Kirkby Thore.

Ian worked as a freelance chef until his wife was diagnosed with a life changing illness affecting mobility. Their two children had grown up and the family sized house was difficult to manage, so EHA assisted in relocating Ian and his wife to a bungalow in Greystoke with an all-important garden. Ian has become his wife’s carer, but in 2011 he did find time to attend gardening training classes organised by the EHA Community Development Team.

Based at Newton Rigg, Ian was naturally green fingered and the college encouraged him to study a BTEC in Horticulture. He did fantastically well and even enjoyed work placement at Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage – the most famous of kitchen gardens.

Coming full circle, Ian now also helps EHA with gardening projects, encouraging others to get the green finger bug.   As a thank you for speaking at the conference, Eden Housing Association arranged for Ian to visit Kew Gardens – a visit high on his bucket list.

Having listened to the issues discussed at the conference, Ian said “The conference was very informative and a real eye opener how government policy may affect future plans, it’s useful for tenants to be aware of the constraints associations now work under. I really enjoyed telling my story and am very grateful for all the support and encouragement Eden Housing Association has given me over the years.”

Ian’s presentation made a real impact, leading to numerous mentions on social media which reaffirmed the PlaceShapers ethos that social housing ‘is about much more than bricks and mortar’. Ian has also been asked to speak on social media during #nationalhousingday Wednesday 18th November.

John Clasper Managing Director at Eden Housing Association said “Ian’s story is a great example of how security of tenure and the right kind of support can make a world of difference. Ian and his family have been tenants for 16 years, and we have enjoyed a great landlord and tenant relationship, working alongside them as their needs have changed. Ian has also embraced our community activities and training, which in turn has led him to cultivate his green fingers. We’re delighted that we helped him develop his love of gardening and learn new skills and pleased he was able to join us at the conference. As a thankyou we made arrangements for him to travel to London earlier so he could visit Kew Gardens. We knew it was on his ‘bucket list’ and we were pleased to make it happen.”

Ian has been invited to contribute to ‘Proud to be a tenant’ day which also co-insides with National Housing Day, both held Wednesday 18th November. For more information about Eden Housing Association visit or call 01768 861400.

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