Lesley Baird: A 'Sisterhood' of Tenant Participation


by Lesley Baird

Congratulations to Supporting Communities on reaching its 40th birthday. TPAS Scotland often proudly says we are the oldest organisation of its kind in the UK. We’ll have to change this to the second oldest - we are only 39!

I have worked with TPAS Scotland for 23 years, and throughout my time we have had strong links with our sister organisation in Northern Ireland. We are both part of a “sisterhood” of tenant participation focussed organisations, the others are TPAS England and Cymru. The sisters are very different but connected by the passion to ensure tenants, residents and communities have a loud voice. The “sisterhood” meet to share information and learn from each other twice a year.

Lesley with Suporting Communities Chair, Lorraine Campbell.

Lesley with Suporting Communities Chair, Lorraine Campbell.

I first learned about the work of the then NITAP at our annual conference when Brian Holmes was a keynote speaker. He talked about the structures and challenges involved in working across communities.  Scottish tenants and staff wanted to know more about all those amazing local projects supported by NITAP, all the amazing work across communities, and the successes in building vibrant communities.  A series of study visits to Northern Ireland to see and learn about the projects began and are still happening today.  We are happy to say that we have also hosted a few visits from Supporting Communities to learn about what happens in Scotland.

We have, over the past few years, been building on our already strong links, exchanging ideas and projects and supporting each other.  Supporting Communities are regular and very popular speakers at our annual conference and Housing Professionals event. We would like to build more links and enable our staff to meet to exchange good practice and share ideas.

Sheenagh McNally with Lesley Baird

Sheenagh McNally with Lesley Baird

When I think of Supporting Communities, I think of an organisation that is passionate, committed, enthusiastic, caring, professional, successful, and loves a laugh!  Supporting Communities has given people and communities power, confidence and support to build successful thriving communities. 

TPAS Scotland are proud to be a part of the SC family and benefit from the skills and knowledge in the team.  We are firm colleagues and friends and I am lucky to enjoy the personal support and friendship of Colm and Sheenagh and others past and present too numerous to mention, you know who you are.   

Good luck for the next 40 years!