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Collaboration transcending the secondment

Posted on 17-10-2023

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In the course of my doctoral research journey, the European Federation for Living (EFL) emerged as an extremely valuable secondment partner. This collaboration has been instrumental in shaping my research and fostering a mutually beneficial relationship, which I am eager to share in this blog post.


Building a network in social housing


EFL has been as an important platform for professionals in the European social housing sector for quite some time. It caters to those keen on staying updated with innovations in policy, finance, and construction, while building an international network. About a year before my official secondment began in July 2022, I had the privilege of being invited to present at their summer school in Bochum, Germany. The fact that the event was particularly tailored for younger professionals in the sector allowed me to blend in very easily. The constructive feedback I received on my early-stage work during this event proved invaluable in understanding how to practically apply the academic literature I had been exploring in my first year, and the connections I made during those days have remained a valuable part of my network.


Facilitating my focus group study


One significant aspect of my collaboration with EFL was the establishment of a focus group study involving social housing professionals from England, France, and the Netherlands. These in-depth discussions, spanning several hours, allowed us to gather crucial insights into their the sector's efforts to address energy poverty. Specifically, we delved into their perceptions of targeted approaches for the future. While I was already familiar with individuals at Ymere in the Netherlands and Clarion in England, it was through EFL's chair Ben Pluijmers' introductions that I was able to connect with key figures at Peabody (England), Havensteder (Netherlands), Paris Habitat, and Polylogis (both France), who played a pivotal role in this study.


Sharing insights and disseminating results


The collaboration with EFL presented various other opportunities to share my findings with a broader audience. I had the opportunity to present preliminary findings at two webinars hosted by EFL’s 'Social' topic group, graciously invited by Anita Blessing and John Stevens. Building on this, I shared valuable insights during EFL's Spring Conference in Paris in May 2023.


The pinnacle of this dissemination effort comes in the form of a comprehensive 20-page whitepaper that synthesises key learnings from our focus groups, focusing on energy poverty alleviation in the social housing sector. Collaborating closely with EFL and co-authors Joris Hoekstra and Ute Dubois, this whitepaper has been a collective endeavour. It is now scheduled for printing and will be shared with those interested at EFL’s upcoming Autumn Conference in Belfast, Northern Ireland, in early November. I am eagerly anticipating this event, and I am grateful to have been invited by EFL’s director, Joost Nieuwenhuijzen. In other words, stay tuned for updates on this page or join us during EFL's conference, because this collaboration is far from over!


Click here for a draft programme of EFL's Autumn Conference that takes place from 8-10 November in Belfast.

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