Midlands social housing champion recognised for career success

A midlands-based executive director from housing association Stonewater has been shortlisted for a national award after going above and beyond when one of the organisation’s estates in Amesbury, Wiltshire, became the focus of investigation in relation to the Salisbury Novichok poisoning.

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Stonewater’s Executive Director for Customer Experience, Sue Shirt, is competing for Woman of the Year: Tenant/Customer Focus award at this year’s Women in Housing Awards. Sue was nominated by a Stonewater customer and chair of the organisation’s scrutiny panel, Roger Pearce.

“Sue has a tremendous commitment and enthusiasm for what we do, and her lead ensures our work is productive and can make a real difference,” wrote Pearce in the shortlisted entry.

Having worked in the sector for more than 30 years, Sue has undertaken a variety of roles including Estate Management Officer, Housing Consultant and Executive Director of Housing. During her time at Stonewater, Sue has proven herself to be a caring leader even in the most extreme circumstances.

In 2018, an incident relating to the Novichok poisoning resulted in Sue taking charge to assess what support the community and affected family needed, as well as making sure it was delivered. This included evacuating people from their homes in under 45 minutes and working with partners to find alternative accommodation.

Nicholas Harris, chief executive of Stonewater said: “Over the last year, Sue has inspired many of our colleagues, customers and partner agencies to go the extra mile. Since joining Stonewater, Sue’s vision, drive and ambition have propelled her to progressively more influential roles in the organisation.

“What’s most inspiring about this, is that her humanity and commitment have remained unchanged. Sue has never lost sight of her beginnings, approaching challenges with down-to-earth pragmatism, compassion and empathy. I wish her the best of luck at the awards ceremony.”

Two other Stonewater colleagues have been shortlisted for a Women in Housing award, with Cordelia Johnney up for Inclusion Champion and Rosie Norman contending for Young Achiever of the Year. Stonewater has also been shortlisted in the Improving the Lives of Women or Communities (large) award category for its South Asian Women’s Refuge (SAWR) in Bedfordshire, which supports South Asian women and children fleeing domestic abuse.

The awards ceremony will take place on Thursday 10 October at the Emirates, Old Trafford Stadium in Manchester.