Meet Catherine Hall, CIH Scotland’s new policy and practice officer
CIH Scotland’s new policy and practice officer Catherine Hall details her journey to working in Scotland’s housing sector and her passion for environmental law.
Throughout my degree in law, I struggled to connect with the idea of pursuing the typical ‘commercial solicitor’ route like my peers. Having grown up in an artistic and creative environment, I was motivated to chase a career that would enable me to channel my passions and ultimately make a difference in the world.
Having graduated, I decided to look beyond a legal traineeship and secure a position that would bring a real sense of equality and justice to my work. For this reason, I began exploring careers within social housing, and quickly found myself working as a policy assistant for a housing association outside Glasgow. Whilst I was able to utilise the skills and knowledge that I gained from my legal background, I finally felt as though I had found a genuinely fulfilling role that offered me the ability to make a direct impact to other people’s lives.
Whilst demanding and challenging at times, it was also incredibly rewarding, entailing a vital social purpose that brought a true sense of organisational worth with human-centred values at its heart. I found that the housing sector encapsulated a cultural ethos of personal growth and development, with a vast capacity to touch the lives of others in so many different ways. I continued working in this role full-time throughout the following year.
Fast forward to the following summer, I found myself channelling further passions, volunteering abroad on an environmental biodiversity project working with marine animals. I subsequently opted to return to university for a year and pursue a Masters in Global Environmental Law & Governance, developing a love for environmental law, policy and research. Nevertheless, I continued to work part-time within the housing sector during my studies. Both spheres were filled with incredibly inspirational people with a desire to change the world. As a young professional, I was determined to play my role in each sector, having had exposure to the challenges that both housing and environmental protection face.
For this reason, I opted to apply to the CIH as a policy and practice officer on a full-time basis following my Masters, whilst continuing my environmental advocacy on a part-time basis. Housing and environmental protection are both, at their very core, social issues. I believe that the two go hand in hand – without access to a healthy environment and access to a safe home, humanity has little chance of securing a fair and just future. As the environment continues to deteriorate and global warming continues to intensify, humanity will witness alarming levels of marginalised communities being pushed into poverty, literally millions of climate refugees as entire low-lying islands are destroyed, and accelerating levels of homelessness. The role of the housing sector cannot be understated in this regard. The right to a healthy environment is beginning to materialise in different legal frameworks throughout the world. If we are to truly secure equality and justice however, housing as a human right must witness similar protections.
Housing is a sector with a real vision, which is what sets it apart from so many other fields. Innovation and dynamism are engrained within its very culture. In this way, the industry is inherently forward-looking, and I feel incredibly lucky to have the opportunity to contribute to this sector alongside like-minded individuals.
The legal profession paints a picture of securing both equality and justice – my aim in life is to truly make this picture a reality, and working for the CIH represents the start of this journey.