New Writing North website and also Amazon.
The book came about in late 2013 when I was invited by New Writing North and by Isos Housing, a
leading social landlord in my native north east England, to investigate Isos's business and the
broader story of social housing both as a modern-day 'sector' and a historical 'movement.' Illustrated with photographs by
Sally Ann Norman, the book tells the 150-year history of subsidised housing in
Britain, offers a case study of how a social landlord is required to operate
today, and reflects, too, on what all of us could do to resolve our
It does affect us all - there's no escape. How the British people are going to access and afford the roofs they
need over their heads will be a major socio-political problem for the
foreseeable future. So for me as a writer it was a really vital,
instructive experience to take a close look inside what Isos does, and to talk to its tenants about their experience of
social housing – the form of provision that is feeling the keenest edge
of our national housing crisis.
Probably the strongest feeling I came
away with was that there are millions of people in the UK who will
always need a socially rented home. Housing associations are the
best-equipped vehicles to answer that need, yet what they do (and why
they do it) is imperfectly understood, both by the public and
politicians. Their virtues are not uniform across the sector or the
length of the land; but I believe they deserve our support.