Housing associations have an immensely important role and today’s Scottish Housing Day recognises that. But we need to create homes, not just houses, because it’s affordable, efficient, warm, safe homes that make for vibrant neighbourhoods and communities – and that’s what our tenants need and deserve.

Since the creation of Caledonia Housing Association in 2011, we have been defined and driven by a strong social purpose, to provide “homes and services that make life better”. What we do has never been as important. The cost of living crisis has had a huge effect across society, with social housing tenants often the hardest hit.

Our fundamental aim is to keep rents affordable for our 5,500 tenants in eight local authority areas, while maximising investment in services, investment in the existing housing stock and building new affordable homes. This is achieved through strong financial and treasury management, effectively controlling costs and driving value for money.

Although rising material costs, inflation and interest rates have impacted housing supply, the sector remains committed to increasing the number and quality of social rented homes. At Caledonia, we plan to build in excess of 600 energy-efficient homes over the next five years. This programme has been designed to support the Scottish Government’s affordable housing programme and homeless strategy.

As well as focusing on increasing the supply of new homes, we need to make sure we provide the right support tenants need today. The needs and preferences of our tenants inform every decision we make. It’s about continually listening, learning and improving. As a response to the rising energy costs, we introduced a new service providing specialist and personalised support to our tenants on how to reduce energy bills, keep homes warm and access financial support. We set up a cost of living taskforce which supports tenants with daily expenses such as food and travel, while we delivered across the country a series of cost of living roadshows providing tenants with advice, information and support.

This year Scottish Housing Day celebrates housing as a career. This strongly resonates with Caledonia’s organisational values. We’re only as strong as our people. To deliver the best service for our tenants, we need to attract, retain and develop the best people. We’ve adopted an “Agile for Everyone” model which reflects the new world of work and has strengthened employee engagement and resulted in “Best Company to Work for” accolades. And as a registered charity we have a diverse, experienced and committed voluntary governing body which provides us with leadership and strategic direction.

Housing associations fulfil an immensely important and responsible role. Quality and affordable housing is vital for our health and wellbeing and positively impacts education, work and the strength of our communities. Our people ensure that we make a difference. By investing in them, we are investing in our tenants and helping to create vibrant communities and neighbourhoods where they want to live.

Julie Cosgrove is Chief Executive, Caledonia Housing Association