IHBC Yearbook 2024

16 YEARBOOK 2024 CHAIR’S REVIEW ADVOCATING CHARTERED STATUS DAVID McDONALD, IHBC CHAIR ONE OF the privileges of being chair of the IHBC is being able to attend Heritage Day events which are organised by The Heritage Alliance. This year it took place at St John’s Church, Waterloo, in London. Speakers included Heritage Minister, Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay and the recently appointed chair of Historic England, Neil Mendoza. The event was not only an opportunity to name drop and network with colleagues across the historic environment sector but also a learning experience. I joined a workshop to discuss best practice in advocacy; it proved to be not only a useful and enlightening session but very pertinent to this review. In his welcome to the Yearbook, our president, Mike Brown, has very eloquently outlined how we might be persuading others of the benefits of chartered status for the IHBC. We did our bit at the event, networking and attempting to ‘work the room’ with our colleagues in the sector. Advocacy is an important but sometimes underappreciated part of what the IHBC is about. Our advocacy works at all sorts of levels, from attendance at events such as Heritage Day, to our response to consultations and interactions with government organisations and even members, day-to-day dealing with clients, councillors and members of the public. We are all in some way or other extolling the benefits of conserving the historic environment. In any advocacy, key skills involve understanding the person or organisation that you are trying to influence and, to some extent, putting yourself in their position. That will help you frame your arguments in the right way and ‘press the right buttons’ to get them on side. In considering how I might sell the advantages of chartered status, this has led me to try and put myself into the shoes of a typical working member of the institute. How might I perceive and react to the possibility of the chartered IHBC? My first question might be, ‘What are the benefits to me personally as well as to the organisation as a whole?’ As Mike Brown has argued, there has to be a benefit from being able to say that one’s professional body is chartered. With apologies to those not interested in football, the sporting analogy is quite a powerful one. It is the difference between being in the Premier League in contrast to the Championship. In other words, we are competing at the highest level. In practical terms, if I am appearing at a public inquiry, my professional status as the member of a chartered organisation is more likely to be accepted than questioned by a crossexamining barrister. The second question might very well be, ‘How will chartered status affect me financially?’ We have been unable to find data that would verify that there is a direct correlation between salary levels and chartership, but anecdotally there may well be a case to be made. The other commonly asked financial query, as demonstrated by our consultation with members is, ‘Will it mean a rise in my annual subscription?’ On that point, I can be more definite in my response. We have sufficient reserves to cover the cost of a petition for charter and, subsequently, any increases in subscriptions will be due solely to inflation or other unforeseen cost rises. I’m aware that I’ve only made a very limited attempt at advocacy here and I would recommend readers to the IHBC website and the ‘frequently asked questions’ section under the ‘petition for charter’ tab on the home page. While the institute’s tentative progress towards chartered status has taken much of my time over the past year, I should also make comment on the IHBC’s other achievements. The 2023 Annual School in Swansea was another hybrid event that built on the work that had made the 2022 event in Aberdeen so successful. Its theme of climate change and retrofit was, of course, timely and impressed upon delegates that this is an ever-changing aspect of conservation and one to which we will be returning frequently. That was followed up in July when the all-party parliamentary group, Conservation Places and People, turned its attention to the lessons learnt in high street regeneration. As in previous years, the content of this yearbook follows that of the annual school which is to be held in Reading. Its title ‘Place and Building Care’ sets an ambitious aim and will cover a wide range of topics including many aspects of managing the historic environment. I’m sure readers will find the connections between economics, finance and people very instructive. As always, I am looking forward to seeing our members in person and online at what promises to be an exciting annual school. David McDonald chair@ihbc.org.uk