It seems almost rude to start thinking about autumn already, but as I type this the annual Scottish Empty Homes Conference is rapidly approaching, less than three months away now. And as always, well in advance of the conference, the nominations for the annual awards will be opening, on 26th August. This year, the window for submissions will be open until the 25th September, with the winners being decided by panel on 16th October. Afterwards, as soon as possible, we will announce the finalists for all categories, but the winners will remain a secret until the day itself, when the Minister for Local Government, Housing and Planning, Kevin Stewart MSP reads the successful names out.

There’s a couple of changes from last year to make you all aware of. There will be no People’s Vote this year, and the ‘Best Use of the Media’ category has been removed. The new category we are introducing this year is Oldest Long-Term Empty Brought Back into Use, where you can compete to see who has brought the oldest property back into use this year. The other four categories are the same as previous years; Best Collaborative Project, Best Before & After Photos, Practitioner of the Year and Outstanding Service. This means that in total, with five categories and three finalists per category, there are fifteen opportunities to get nominated and of course, five awards to win.

We say it every year, but you should not be afraid to self-nominate. So often, amazing empty homes work tends to fly under the radar, often because empty homes officers simply see the great work they do as just another day in the office. But we know it’s so much more than that, and writing a nomination for yourself – whether that be for yourself or a project you’ve helped along – helps you to take a step back and really appreciate the work you’ve put in. If you’re just a bit too shy to self-nominate, then why not ask your manager or another colleague to do it on your behalf?

Of course, media coverage, for all the finalists but especially for the award winners, is a major consideration when submitting nominations. In the past, people have been given a permanent contract after winning an award, so it’s not exaggerating to say that winning an award could make a big difference.

Follow this link to the nomination forms, and this link for more information about the conference and to purchase tickets.