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PlaceShaper chair Sinead Butters opens PlaceShapers 2016 

"It's been a whole year since we last met as a network here in London. Where we listened to Greg Clark speak about how important the sector was, and the work of PlaceShapers. Where we heard inspirational stories from the people that matter, the people that pay our wages. Our tenants.

Well, that was then and this is now. It's been a tumultuous year, it seemed 'twas ever thus! Trump as president, Farage achieving his lifelong ambition, a new government, and a sharp intake of breath as we try to make sense of what is happening around us. My son is studying French and international relations at uni. What a time to be a young person, hoping for a better future, as the world we knew seems to crumble in front of our very eyes.

But today, for us, it's a time of reflection. A time to look back on where we have been as a movement and what we have achieved. About our contribution to the national housing policy debate, in the name of our organisations, our people and our communities. Today is the actual day that Cathy Come Home was first aired some 50 years ago. How much has really changed since then? With homelessness shamefully increasing to eye watering levels, the most vulnerable in society at risk of seemingly random ill-considered policy shifts, and a housing crisis front and centre, maybe things aren't that much different at all.

We can stand back and reflect on all of this, on us, and our role and whether we have responsibility to step forward. Or we can say it is too hard, out of our hands, not our fault.

But I know who we are. I know, because I have seen it for myself. We are people of action. We care passionately about our customers and tenants, about our neighbourhoods and communities because we are our communities. We shape our services around the people we support, and we work hard to ensure that their voice is heard.

We know that we deliver important lasting impact, and that impact takes many forms, and with independent boards we chose our path.

We know that there is a housing crisis, that we need to strain every sinew to build more of all tenures. To deliver local housing for local people with our local authority partners. We believe it is they, working with us and with their communities, who should decide what is built where. We do the difficult things, build in areas where no one in their right minds would, but that acts then as a catalyst for a community and hope for the future.

We are all stepping up. In every way. We have embraced the challenge presented by the rent cut and with focussed leadership have taken our organisations through a difficult period, and emerged stronger. We are on the precipice of opportunity. Opportunity to shape our future, to own it and forge a new relationship with whoever is in power. A relationship where we are valued.

This year PlaceShapers have chosen two key themes. We Work and We Build. We want to showcase the work of our 117 members, and achieve a balance in what we are known for. What we stand for. Between our diverse activities and the scale and size of our development ambitions. We want to get our act in order, get our message straight. You can do business with us, and we will help. We will act as a critical friend and you will turn to us to find out what works where. And we will be listened to. A trusted partner.
So we focused on two things. Our work that helps people into jobs and training and our development track record, ambition and plans. We launched our fantastic film "We Work" at the CiH conference in June and was shortlisted for a national PR award,

We Build is our next project, with a development conference to come in the Spring, and collating our pipeline numbers we will have another fantastic story to tell. Members everywhere are stepping up and it's time to shout about it.
And in the meantime, even as we sit here, our organisations, through our collective might, are building thousands of new homes, helping tens of thousands of people into work and supporting millions of people in every corner of the country."

Sienad opening

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