This month Spotlight talks to Karina Skinner, a Wornington Green resident who is an active member of the local community and newly appointed local board member.
As one of nine siblings, Karina learnt from an early age to get her voice heard. This is a skill that has served her well later in life and led to her becoming involved in a wide range of groups and organisations in the community. Her list of current commitments includes mentoring for P2P, helping out at the Community Kitchen Garden, attending the Residents’ Steering Group meetings as well as being an active volunteer and PTA committee member at Oxford Gardens Primary School.
As if this was not enough, Karina has recently joined KHT’s residents’ board, where she will sit alongside three other local board members (also KHT residents living in the Borough) and work with CHG to review strategy and identify areas for improvement.
Having started off attending Wornington Green Steering Group meetings, Karina realised that getting involved was the best way to get her voice heard. “I first got involved because I wanted to know more about the regeneration and felt that my generation wasn’t being represented.” Despite fearing that the agenda would be dictated by older residents, Karina decided on her approach. “I just went in there with a smile on my face and tried to lift the mood. Since I’ve been involved, other younger residents have started to get involved in Steering Groups because now they know their voices will be heard.”
Although involvement in Steering Group meetings was a useful stepping stone to a place on the board, Karina has been surprised by the level of added responsibility. Having been selected following a series of interviews, she has since undergone additional training to understand the full extent of the role. “There is lots of paperwork”, she says, “and we get to see important documents relating to housing stock and issues like anti-social behaviour.” The most important things she has learnt in her short time as a board member is “that’s it’s not a forum for individual complaints, but a way of working with CHG to make things better for all residents.”
Karina is typically upbeat about the value of the residents’ board and feels it is good news for the relationship between the landlord and tenants. “This is a huge step forward in terms of improving relations and demonstrates that we can all work together to provide better places to live and more opportunities for residents.”
Explaining her commitment to various causes, Karina says “there are plenty of ways you can get your voice heard. Having an opinion and telling no-one doesn’t achieve anything. But telling people and coming up with solutions gets things done a lot quicker.”
As well as juggling her role as a mother with numerous community commitments, Karina also finds time to indulge her latest hobby – rock climbing, which she has taken up recently at the Westway Centre. Never one to shy away from a challenge, she is now planning a family climbing holiday in France this summer before her busy schedule of meetings starts again in September.