A man who grew up in Southwark social housing has told of his desire to help ‘people who are seldom heard’ in his new role as a board member at Peabody.
Thirty-four-year-old Peter Baffoe has joined Peabody’s board of directors for a three-year term.
The community development worker from Walworth decided to apply to join the board after attending a resident Q&A with Peabody’s executive team.
Peter said: “I’m passionate about my community. I was born at Guys’, grew up here and have lived here all my life.
“My aim is to be a voice for people who are seldom heard. People call them hard to reach but I don’t accept that. In my role on the Peabody board I’ll make sure they are heard.
“I want to offer an alternative view – there are obviously very highly skilled and knowledgeable board members with all sorts of experience.
“What I can do is represent residents to them, and perhaps offer a different perspective and insight into how decisions are felt.
“I can articulate what it means to live in a Peabody building, what it means to live in London in this changing environment, and what it means to be part of communities that are more transient than they ever used to be.
“People are all just trying to get some stability and prosperity for themselves and their families.
“Peabody is in a position to help or hinder that, and I can hopefully help provide the insight to help.”
He said his message for residents is “know your value – social housing tenants are not second-class citizens. You deserve the best and the highest standards at all times.
“Feel confident and comfortable to challenge, ask questions and demand the best from your landlord.
“We won’t always get it right but it is part of my job to help ensure we do our absolute best.”
Peter works for the Bermondsey-based charity South London Mission, which holds Saturday Schools, a pop-in service for older people, a night shelter and also works with Southwark foodbank.
He is a strong advocate of social housing, which he describes as a ‘great leveller’.
“I felt this was a good opportunity for me to help shape Peabody’s approach to some really important issues,” he said.
“Affordability and the ability of people on lower incomes to live in the city particularly. This is not just a moral question, or an economic one.
“I am interested in the cultural capital for people living in central London – it is a great leveller.
“Living close to Big Ben, the Festival Hall, Soho and the West End is a wonderful opportunity, and just because you are on a low income you shouldn’t be excluded from that cultural richness of the city.
“I feel very strongly that organisations like Peabody keeps those issues on the radar, whether in providing social housing or through community investment and cultural partnerships in our neighbourhoods.”
Peabody is London’s oldest housing association, established in 1862 by the American banker and philanthropist, George Peabody.
Today the housing association owns and manages more than 55,000 homes – providing affordable housing for around 111,000 people.
Its chairman Lord Kerslake welcomed Peter to the board: “I’ve been enormously impressed by Peter. “He is smart, articulate and not afraid to challenge board members.
“Passionate about community and social housing in London, I know he will be a strong and effective advocate for Peabody residents. I look forward to working with him.”