An Award Ceremony Too Far 

I come from a boxing family. Dad was a good amateur boxer who occasionally fought for money to put food on the table during the Depression on Tyneside. His career was curtailed by the war and he lost most of his medals during the Blitz on Bootle. In his later life he became a trainer for a boxing club in Leicester. It was here where I learned the rudiments of the fight game, not always with much success.

Some of my earliest memories are of being woken by Dad in the middle of the night to hear the latest fight from America on an old wireless. I heard live the first Ali verses Liston fight when the young boxer from Louisville shocked the world by defeating the ageing Liston to become the undisputed Heavyweight Champion. As I Listened to the recent Joshua fight I was thinking of that night with Dad.

As he grew older Dad became disillusioned with boxing. He thought that the proliferation of titles for commercial gain diluted the quality of champions. It became almost impossible to name one as there were often so many. In Dad’s view many of the champions were not worthy of the title. Where once he could name the fighter who dominated his division, like Ali in the 1960s, Marciano in the 1950s, Louis in the 1930s and 1940s, each weight had so many champions, he could no longer do so. Very few became household names. Today Anthony Joshua is being called a unified champion but as far as I can tell he holds 2 or maybe 3 of the many heavyweight belts. Do you know who holds the others?

Before the fight I was involved in a twitter exchange on housing award ceremonies. Some people feel that there are too many. Some are angry at the amount of money spent on them when more of our tenants and would be tenants are struggling under the impact of Austerity Britain. The counter argument is that we should celebrate success and that awards recognise learning and development and provide an opportunity to share good practice.

In the past the organisations I have worked for have won a number of awards and they have sponsored them. I recognise that they have a value, especially for those involved. I will never forget one ceremony where we won an award for our extra care work. Afterwards a scheme manager, who was a strong trade unionist, told me that it was one the best moments in her life. 

However, I believe that it is time to consider whether there are now too many award ceremonies in the housing sector. They fuel the argument that housing associations are profligate with tenants’ money. As in boxing there are now so many awards that they have become meaningless to all but a few inside the housing bubble. I won’t comment if the sheer number has also led to a reduction in quality. As in boxing they have increased for mainly commercial reasons. Bums on seats at the award ceremony table just as at ringside is the name of the game. 

Maybe it is time for all the award giving bodies to come together and agree to hold just one national housing award ceremony per year. A unified housing award would really be something to strive for. At the same time the more extravagant trappings could be removed. Do we really need an expensive dinner and black tie to recognise outstanding achievement or even to encourage learning? If we adopted this idea the name of each annual award winner would be known to everyone in the sector and even beyond. Just like the unified heavyweight crown an annual award would be worth winning. And perhaps in future years people might even remember that you had won it.


10 thoughts on “An Award Ceremony Too Far 

  1. There is a huge irony in housing and awards. The awards are an internal love-in aimed at promoting one social landlord against their peers / competitors – a wholly internal PR exercise within the (mythical?) housing sector.

    Yet the same award givers and award recipients have never promoted the product and service they provide (social housing) to anyone outside of the housing bubble in which they exclusively reside.

    Internal PR 100 and external PR Zero makes for a very poor boxing match don’t you think?

    • Yes Joe there is a huge irony in housing professionals awarding a social landlord for so called best practice when there is poor reputation in area of practice in the eyes of there so called customers.

      In the beginning of this April, I made a complaint to one of last week’s award winners for failing to advantage of both internal and external PR on this world autism awareness week in promoting there claimed staff awareness training. If this award winner is very serious about equality and diversity like they claim to say then in the last four years they would of put themselves into in the position of winning an National Autistic Society Autism Friendly Award and may of won that award by now!

      • Chris, I do not know which HA to which you refer but you cannot have it both ways.
        You cannot criticise an organisation for entering awards and then criticise them for not entering a specific one.
        There are loads of organisations out there representing different “disabled” groups (I apologize if I offend) and it would be impossible for a HA to applied for awards from every one of them.

  2. I was a member of the CITY Board when we first decided to have a black tie event – and we went through the same heart searching as we do now.
    All professional sectors tend to celebrate success, effort and achievement. I since that over the years the people being celebrated are not at the top end of the organisational pyramid but those at Street level. The impact on their moral and self esteem is incalculable.
    The cost of award ceremonies, compared to the revenue streams of HAs hardly makes a dent but you would think it is equivalent to an estate being demolished.
    We need to celebrate success and recognise those who make superb efforts. If we don’t then we will just slip in to mediocrity!

  3. Fair point DD – but maybe we need a rule like in football – if you spend too much cash to win the award there must be penalties for financial doping btw the only thing I have ever won was the meat draw in the Cowley Workers

  4. When I competed with my kickboxing club’s tournament team, we used to joke: “Everyone’s a world champion these days!” You’re right – there are so many titles in boxing (and martial arts) that there value is greatly depreciated, and the same is true of housing awards. I think there’s a place for recognising effort and good practice, but not at the expense (literally) of tenant’s money. (I also agree that getting rid of the black tie fancy facade would go some way to pulling the value of award ceremonies back into the ‘real’ world.)

  5. What has everyone got against black ties and, presumably, penguin suits? It is simply a uniform worn for a formal event.
    For myself, I would like the freedom the ladies have at these events – heaven help us if they were restricted to one style of attire with one colour. The world would be a poorer place indeed.
    Now, where is my red or black watch dickybow and crimson paisly waistcoat?

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