Sustainability, homelessness, mental health, wellbeing and climate change were all agenda topics at this year’s Estates Gazette ‘Future of Real Estate’ conference, suggesting a notable shift in mindset as to how the industry is viewing and approaching these issues. It was incredibly refreshing to see the industry tackling this as part of this flagship event.
The tone was set by the opening keynote speech from Emma Greenwood, Youth MP for Bury and Ambassador for the National Youth Strike for Climate Organisation, on the urgent need to address the environmental challenges facing us and what needs to be done to protect our future. Her confidence and ability to hold an audience was striking. An affecting panel discussion on mental health followed, with debate around the important role our built environment has to play in supporting our people across the industry, and in so doing realising benefits in increased productivity, reduced absenteeism and retained talent. The question of how we can better use derelict or empty space to support charities tackling homelessness was then powerfully addressed in a session by Skull Fades, an organisation which takes homeless people off the streets and trains (and empowers) them to work in a growing number of charity barber shops across the country.
All in all, a moving and memorable day dealing with issues which, I think it is fair to say, would not have been covered at one of the real estate industry’s key events only a few years ago, let alone have such a prominent role in the programme. Times are very obviously changing - these issues can no longer be ignored or swept under the carpet.
At Shoosmiths, we support and embrace this change. We are pleased to have worked in partnership with Estates Gazette on their 2019 conference and to be involved in such an inspiring programme. We look forward to seeing the property industry make continued strides to drive positive change in our society through our built environment.
See a video clip of the event here: