My wife's expecting our first daughter in August this year, and I can't wait. I'm so excited about being a dad. But rewind just a few short years, and I could never have imagined this would be happening to me. Because my cancer surgeon had just uttered the words "the treatment will almost certainly leave you infertile".
When the recession hit, it wiped out livelihoods and decimated entire markets. In the face of a global slump, Britain's housing sector was no exception; buyers couldn't afford to buy and builders couldn't afford to build. Over the course of several years, the pace of the property market dropped from jet stream to tumbleweed and the UK was left with an increasingly problematic housing deficit.
Picture the scene: a new bridge is built in London, and the public hate it. An architect comments that "it represents the vice of tawdriness and pretentiousness" and a local paper calls it London's "ugliest public work". What was this architectural monstrosity? None other than London landmark Tower Bridge...
We can't afford to be caught unaware like this again. There is too much at stake: the country is in a housing crisis and needs housing associations to build homes, while millions of people around the country depend on them for shelter. These businesses need to be strong and must be able to weather even the harshest of storms.
In a design workshop yesterday, I suddenly realised I wasn't trying. I wasn't contributing to the process by suggesting solutions, I wasn't listening. As soon as this struck me, I leaned forward, started thinking and got involved. Afterwards I felt very happy and left the meeting feeling lighter and much more positive about life. I also felt determined not to let that happen again!
Over the years I have worked with, and met, some amazing and inspirational women who have offered me insight into the control and power dynamics, inequalities and prejudices that perpetuate violence against women and girls. Of course, these variants will differ from country to country, culture to culture, but one variant remains constant - MEN.
We desperately need housing to be a national priority to deliver a huge increase in new homes. Our continued failure to tackle this problem head on hits millions of families hard, denies people the opportunity to buy their own home, traps increasing numbers of working people in benefit dependency at huge cost to the public purse and acts as a real brake on economic growth.