IHBC Yearbook 2021

R E V I E W A N D A N A L Y S I S 19 DIRECTOR’S UPDATE LESSONS FROM THE PANDEMIC SEAN O’REILLY, IHBC DIRECTOR We’ve faced a huge number of challenges in the past year and more, like everyone else. Nevertheless, we have managed to maintain a very high level of activity, impact and influence across all the interests that shape our built and historic environment, its care and especially its conservation. The pandemic has continued to be a serious concern for us corporately as well as individually, but the financial measures we instigated in 2020 served well to secure our viability in the short term – inevitably a concern for smaller charitable organisations such as ours faced by potentially catastrophic changes in our operating environment. We have continued to respond to the worst effects of the pandemic in 2021 and have now completed our challenging but highly successful two-day ‘virtual’ Brighton School, hosted with the invaluable support of our South East Branch. Now we are looking ahead with cautious optimism as we move out of lockdown, helped not least by the government’s relaxed monetary policy. Understandably, the longer-term future remains uncertain, but at least we know we can adapt successfully to weather this particular storm. One invaluable resource we now have is the experience gained from developing, hosting and delivering our successful ‘snap’ school in June 2020. Exploring ‘Reflections and speculations from a global pandemic’, this virtual version of our day school was slimmed down from a traditional three-day school in a last minute pandemic pivot. Its two webinar-style sessions boasted an unprecedented array of global and local expertise and experience. In particular, Carl Elefante, former president of the American Institute of Architects, delved into his mantra that ‘the greenest building is the one that already exists’. This was the perfect complement to the most critical agenda for humanity, as well as for the IHBC: energy and climate change. With some 700 participants over two sessions, that day alone could have been the highlight for the year, but it was only the start. September 2020 saw the launch of the UK-wide Westminster-based All Party Parliamentary Group on ‘Conservation, Places and People’ (CPP APPG), with the IHBC as its supporting secretariat. That APPG now boasts members with credentials no less luminary in their own roles and remits than Carl’s, not least APPG Vice Chair Lord (Bob) Kerslake, past lead at Sheffield City Council, Homes and Communities Agency, and the Home Civil Service. Already they are wielding huge weight for our cause. Our 2020 briefing to the Flooded streets in Matlock, Derbyshire: the direct and indirect consequences of climate change are increasingly the focus of much of our work. (Photo: iStock.com/Jonathan Christian Photography)