The mornings are getting colder, the nights longer and the clothes woollier. Which can only mean one thing; the annual Scottish Empty Homes Conference is approaching fast. And with the conference, comes another annual event; the Howdens Scottish Empty Homes Champion of the Year Awards are open for nomination again.
The awards are a way for members of the public, colleagues or the Empty Homes Officer themselves to be recognised for the hard work and innovative approaches they’ve undertaken in the last year. The five categories will recognise some of the main aspects of empty homes work; Outstanding Individual, Best Use of the Media, Outstanding Project, Best Before & After Photo and Outstanding Service.
Last year, we had a record number of nominations across all categories, with 48 in total, an average of just under ten per category. There were no ‘easy’ choices for a judging panel tasked with finding winner for five categories. To try and increase the recognition for nominees slightly, given the high number of applicants, we introduced a new system of finalists and winners. This means that once the panel have announced their decision, we can announce the finalists straight away (unlike in previous years, where the winners only found out on the day of the conference itself). We will still be sticking with this system this year, so plenty more opportunities for you all to get a bit of recognition for you and your project.
However, we also have an exciting new addition this year; the People’s Vote. Once all the nominations are in, the panel will decide the winners and finalists as normal on the 10th October, but then also put forward a number of nominees, across any of the five normal categories, for an award which will be put to public vote. This will be open to absolutely anyone, so get your family, friends and work colleagues to log on and vote for your nomination. It will open around mid-October and will close on Friday 16th November.
These new categories all increase your chance of winning an award, or at least being nominated as a finalist, which given the sheer number of nominations last year is an honour itself. So what’s in it for you? Apart from a chance to shake hands with our hero, Phil Hanson from Howdens, and the Housing Minister, plus of course your award to display proudly on your wall, you also get a great deal of recognition for you and your project. In the past this recognition has led to contracts being made permanent and projects being expanded or at least continued, so it’s certainly no small thing to win an award.
Another new feature this year is a standardised nomination form. This is to make things easier for us to collate and display all the nominations together, but it will also help to steer nominees towards the kind of information we are ideally looking for in a nomination, so hopefully it will make it easier for everyone, particularly new nominees.
You have until midnight on Friday 28th September so get your nominations in soon!
And here’s last year’s winners and finalists for some inspiration.
The conference is on Monday 26th November at The Engine Shed, Stirling.