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The founding tenant Chair of Phoenix has been named among the lifetime achievement finalists in a national awards scheme celebrating tenant involvement.
Pat Fordham MBE was instrumental in the creation of Phoenix Community Housing in 2007 as London's only resident-led housing association. That followed decades of community activism to seek improved housing conditions and better services for tenants in Lewisham.
This week she was named on the shortlist for the lifetime achievement category of the Tpas Awards 2019, which showcase the inspirational stories of tenants, landlords and contractors with a view to promoting better resident involvement and engagement across the UK.
Originally from Islington, Pat joined her local tenants' association shortly after moving to Lewisham and it soon became a full-time unpaid occupation for her. She sat on numerous housing boards and committees for Lewisham Council, including as Chair of the Tenants Strategy Group.
When Lewisham Council considered transferring the management of its housing stock in the mid 2000s, Pat was determined to ensure there was an alternative option on the ballot. She found inspiration from Community Gateway Association, a new housing association in Preston with a clear model of resident leadership and empowerment.
She and a group of like-minded tenants spent months campaigning for a similar type of housing associations in south Lewisham. The ballot by Lewisham Council found almost 70 per cent of tenants in favour.
As the first Chair of Phoenix, Pat's achievements included the realisation of The Green Man as a new community building for the area, the creation of the Phoenix Academy to develop resident Board Members of the future, and an approach to resident involvement that goes far beyond that offered by the majority of landlords.
Her leadership spanned Phoenix meeting more than 150 initial transfer promises to residents right through to the development of our first new homes. She stepped down as our Chair in 2016 and as a Board Member in 2017 but remains an active member of our Phoenix Gateway Committee and Residents Communications Group.
Former Mayor of Lewisham, Sir Steve Bullock, said of Pat: "She has made an incredible contribution to this community. Many people were sceptical about Phoenix – but they were people who’d never talked to Pat. Pat knew it could work but what she didn’t tell us was that it would be her inspirational leadership that would actually make Phoenix the success it is today. In years to come people will talk about the legend that is Pat Fordham."
All of us would like to wish Pat the very best of luck at the Tpas Awards ceremony on 29 March 2019.