Why you should think about a career in social housing
Housing is a great career, and any skills you learn in housing you can transfer to any other role. It’s a good place for anyone to start – it’s got career progress, it’s got rewards, and you meet some great people.
I got my start in 2001 working as agency staff. I was doing normal admin work: answering the phone, answering queries – but my ultimate goal was to be a contracts manager, which I can happily say that I’ve achieved. At that point, it seemed a long way off.
What I did was make myself available to other departments who needed a helping hand, whether it was answering phone calls, or doing filing and faxing, and from that I got to learn how the different departments worked and what was required of them. By the time I applied for a permanent job, I was able to give them a lot of insight about different departments, what their requirements were and how to meet their expectations.
I came to Phoenix when it was first set up in 2007, as part of a staff transfer. I was given responsibility for gas servicing. In our first year, I had an 86% success rate getting residents to let us in, which I think is a good thing when the organisation’s just started up, you’ve got none of the procedures, no policies.
I always say to people: ‘If there’s something I’ve not learnt, I’m always willing to help and learn’. If I’ve never cleaned a toilet before and someone says, ‘Can you clean a toilet?’, it’s another skill to add to my CV.
When a contract managing role came up, I went for that and I got it. You could say I’m a baby when it comes to Phoenix, because I’ve been here from the very start and my career has grown because of Phoenix.
Working in housing you come across so many different types of people, whether you’re dealing with residents or whether you’re dealing with your colleagues who have all types of experiences in life.
It’s a good way to up your communications skills – you won’t speak to directors the same way you speak to an admin person, it’s a different type of language and understanding.
There are so many opportunities - you’ve just got to figure out what you want to do and also ask yourself why you want to do it.
You should definitely consider a career in social housing if you like meeting people. You start to learn how people live, and how to be considerate to other people’s situations. Housing made me realise you’re not the only person going through something.
If you work in a building where everyone is willing to help and share their skills and teach and train you and even to mentor you, it’s a great thing. When I speak to someone who has got skills I haven’t got, I’m always learning.
If you want to make a difference, then definitely think about working in social housing. I remember once I helped a family out, and the next couple of weeks they were coming into the office and going, ‘Hi, Gavin!’ and they were so happy, and thanking me for something that was just my role, that made me feel like, ‘I’ve made a difference!’