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I became a Board member of ccha in 2017 and became the Chair in 2019, and this March, I stepped down as Chair having now reached the end of my two terms.

One of my first key decisions when I started as Chair of the Board was the approval of the ccha business plan 2025. I was really pleased with the new plan because it had been based on extensive consultation with ccha residents, staff, and the Board and set out our 5 key themes:

  • Resident Standards
  • Staff and partner engagement
  • Safety and security responsibility
  • More affordable homes pledge
  • Value for money offer.

In early 2020, we had the pandemic and my focus as Chair was working with the CEO, Leadership Team, and the Board to ensure that our residents and staff were safe. This was a challenging time for all of us. ccha emerged from it and started on a new path which was crystallised with the opening of a new office in the heart of Croydon in 2023.

However, we were moving forward against a backdrop of volatility in the economic and political environment. The highest rate of inflation in over 40 years, a cost-of-living crisis for many of our residents, continual news stories about the poor condition of housing and the services received by residents, and no long-term housing policy. It was disappointing but not surprising that we saw a fall in overall customer satisfaction like many other housing organisations during this time. I am pleased to see the start of an upturn in resident satisfaction although there is still some way to go before ccha achieves the customer satisfaction levels that it had previously attained.

I Chaired my last meeting at ccha in February and it was fitting that just before this we had confirmation from the Regulator that ccha had regained its G1/V1 rating. I know how hard the staff team and Board have worked to accomplish this. This was no mean feat and I feel very proud of ccha for achieving this.

During my time as a Chair and Board member, I have had the privilege to meet residents in person and online and discuss the services that ccha provides and where we need to improve. My interactions have shown me how important ccha is as a locally based landlord and I saw that many residents have been with ccha for years and forged a long-lasting relationship with the organisation.

Some of my happiest times as Chair have also been to see the many new homes that ccha has built and developed. I can say that without exception our new homes have been built to a high standard. I am so proud of the contribution that ccha has made and will continue to make in meeting the huge housing need that exists. As a ‘place-shaping’ organisation with strong roots in Croydon, ccha has always been committed to the wider community and I am pleased that we were a founder member of the legacy youth zone in Selhurst which provides vital support to children and young people in the Borough and through other local partnerships.

Reflecting on my time at ccha, it feels like I have been Chair at a time of change and uncertainty, and I feel very fortunate that ccha has had the organisational strength to weather the storms. I have seen my role as Chair very much like a conductor of an orchestra – enabling and engaging colleagues to bring out the best and make the right decisions for ccha and its residents.

Throughout my time as Chair, I have worked closely with the Chief Executive, Tracy Cullen, who along with the Leadership Team and staff at ccha has shown immense commitment and resilience. My fellow Board members have also been a great source of expertise and support. So, I know that as an outgoing Chair, when you get an organisation such as ccha that is well-run, with a commitment to deliver quality services and is known and trusted by the local community, the value it delivers is immense. I feel honoured to have been part of this.

I am extremely grateful to my fellow Board members, the staff, the Chief Executive, and the Leadership Team for their support during my tenure as Chair. I became a Board member of ccha in 2017 and became the Chair in 2019, I took over from Steve Benson, who sadly, only very recently passed away. Steve’s passing has made me realise even more that as the Chair you act as a steward for the organisation, and that organisation at its essence is about people, both residents, staff, and Board colleagues working together to create a legacy that you pass on.

I am delighted that as I step down from my role as Chair of ccha, I am passing the torch to Maureen Adams, who I know will lead the organisation to even greater heights. I extend my best wishes to everyone at ccha, including the residents, staff, and Board, for a successful future.

Heather Thomas

Headshot of Heather Thomas.

Former Chair and Board Member of ccha

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