Picture of Nick Atkin, Cheif Executive of Halton HousingIt was a full house for Halton Housing Chief Executive, Nick Atkin, who shared his extensive experience with University Centre St Helens students, currently undertaking degrees in Social Policy, Health and Housing and Criminal Justice, in a special guest lecture.

Nick, has worked in a combination of frontline and senior roles throughout his housing career. His current role as Chief Executive at Halton Housing has involved the delivery of a successful £120m investment programme as well as improving the wellbeing and life chances of the 14,000 people who live in the organisation’s homes.

During the lecture, Nick shared his vision of the future shape of social housing and how digital can act as an enabler to some of the changes ahead.

Nick is a keen advocate of innovation, sharing with students his ideas on how to maximise digital potential. For the past 16 years, Nick has been fully paperless, and he has successfully delivered a fully flexible and remote working approach and a shift away from the use of internal email.

Nick was included in the top 25 most influential people in housing, and for the last two consecutive years Halton Housing has been the most digitally connected organisation in the Visceral Business Connected Housing Index, in which Nick was also ranked as the most influential digital leader. His ranking comes from his ability to recognise and exploit effective organisational change.

Nick has led the organisation’s Digital First strategy which was put in place to combat the effects of Welfare Reform on both customers and Halton Housing. The aim is to have 90% of all customer led transactions delivered via digital routes by the end of the year. This is through, a range of digital tools including a customer app, website portal, proactive Live Chat on the organisation’s website, all of which is underpinned by mobile working.

Nick explained to students that as part of the development of the Digital First Strategy, over 90% of their customers had access to the internet. For those that don’t have access, Halton Housing provides devices and free data and works with customers on a one to one basis, helping them to build their confidence online.

He keeps up his digital way of working right through to how he communicates - a regular contributor to Twitter, Nick also maintains contact with customers by holding monthly live Facebook chats.

Nick Atkin, Chief executive of Halton Housing commented: “I was thrilled to have been invited to University Centre St Helens, to share my experience of the housing sector and the digital journey we at Halton Housing have been on. Hopefully I’ve provided a glimpse into the diverse and exciting opportunities that are on offer within our sector, and inspired a student or two to consider a future in housing.”

Social Policy, Health and Housing programme lecturer, Peter Gore, said: “We were delighted to welcome Nick to University Centre St Helens. Nick’s wealth of knowledge and experience gave students an excellent insight into the future of social housing and how a digital approach is helping the sector deal with the many problems it faces. Having guest speakers has become an important part of the degree course offering students insight in to real-world life experiences from the position of someone who has been there.”

The Social Policy, Health and Housing course offered at University Centre St Helens, provides a fulfilling and stimulating experience that connects theory and practice. Delivered by dedicated and experienced staff, the course aims to give a real insight into social policy as a discipline. The degree is validated by the University of Chester and receives additional validation by the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH). This is in recognition that the degree supports the housing profession. It’s not too late to apply to University Centre St Helens for September 2018. Visit uc.sthelens.ac.uk to find out more.