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Chief executive to leave after 41 years helping provide homes

Karen Mayhew is stepping down as chief executive of Havebury Housing Partnership this winter
Karen Mayhew is stepping down as chief executive of Havebury Housing Partnership this winter

The woman at the helm of Havebury Housing Partnership has announced she is stepping down this winter.

Karen Mayhew has spent her working life in the housing sector and since 2010 has been chief executive of the housing provider.

“It’s a good time for letting some one else take on this role. It’s a fantastic job. Some of the responsibility and accountability can be daunting as you are dealing with people’s homes and lives as well as things like health and safety but you get to do something that’s very satisfying.

“We try to deliver a good quality of service which is friendly and approachable.

“I also work with a great lot of people in this business.”

Karen, 61, began her career in London’s Kings Cross and worked in Islington and Hackney. She then worked in Basildon where she also handled homelessness provision.

“I drank innumerable cups of coffee talking about tenants’ priorities and concerns. It was real work on the ground and I met some fantastic people.”

She moved to East Anglia as Haverhill housing manager for St Edmundsbury Borough Council becoming assistant chief housing officer working with Steve Cook, then chief housing officer.

Together they took the council housing stock into housing association controlin 2002.

“When Havebury was set up it was a very brave move and we were very strong in terms of what we wanted to do. The great advantage was being able to borrow against the collateral of the council’s stock to create our own funding.”

On today’s issues she said: “It’s a very difficult environment. We know people want to get on the housing ladder but they need to save far more as deposits are considerably higher. It is very difficult for someone who is privately renting to save at the same time. There is no silver bullet to this.”

As to the future Karen, who is married to John, chairman of One Haverhill, said: “I want to do something that’s purposeful and I want more time to do the things that I enjoy doing. It’s quite scary but exciting and is the first time in my working life for decades where there’s a blank sheet of paper before me.

“It’s a step change and I want to do something else which I hope will be as enjoyable as this has been.”

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