How did you first hear about jobs in housing?
I have family who are involved in social housing and having previously been employed as a Welfare Rights Officer, I was aware of the need for social housing and also the rapid growth of the sector for many years. I was aware of the potential for employment within this sector.
How did you find further information about a career in housing?
After leaving Queens University Belfast (QUB) I was in need of employment and having been aware of the potential for employment in the housing sector I researched various websites and newspapers to find a job. I found a career that appealed to me on the Northern Ireland Federation of Housing Associations website. I applied for the position with Ark Housing, based at their homeless services unit as Assistant Homeless Services Officer, and was successful in my job application.
What was it that appealed to you when you were thinking about a job in housing?
I always wanted to help the socially disadvantaged and felt that this position enabled me to pursue this vocation. With my previous background this was an ideal opportunity to fulfil ambitions and goals in a career. The potential for career development within social housing is immense.
How did you get your first job in housing?
I was unemployed and had just left QUB and the job opportunity within social housing with Ark Housing was available.
What personal skills and qualifications did you have that helped you secure your first job in housing?
I had no formal qualifications in housing or experience in the field when I started at Ark. Although I have previous experience of working with socially disadvantaged and marginalised people.
Working within the Homeless Services Unit presented me with the challenge of working with one of the most marginalised sections of society. I have empathy, good communication skills and a high willingness to help these people.
What skills & training have you gained since you have had your job in housing?
I have received numerous training courses both internally and externally through my Employer since I joined including:
Staff development through bespoke training is very important to Ark and I have benefited a lot from this during my time here. I have also gained my First Aid at work certificate.
I have also become more proficient in my administration and IT skills. The skills and confidence that I have gained since joining Ark Housing Association have enabled me to provide a much better and efficient service to the residents within the Homeless Services Unit and help realise my potential.
Describe a typical day?
To be honest it is difficult to describe a typical day within the Homeless Services Unit. Each and every day presents its own challenges and issues. The nature of the Homeless Services Unit is to provide temporary accommodation to homeless families and this can change daily with families moving out and families moving in. Different families present different challenges and it is through identifying their specific needs and implementing specific support plans that we can best help. To overcome these challenges and provide the best possible support and care to our families I interact and liaise with other governmental and statutory agencies on a regular basis.
One day I could be helping to complete a benefits form with a client and the next day I could be helping to move the same client to a permanent address. The underlying theme of working within the Homeless Services Unit is to break the cycle of homelessness and to provide the necessary life skills and confidence to help sustain and maintain a client's own tenancy. A client who you have invested time and energy with who moves on to maintain their own tenancy is the ultimate goal and the satisfaction is immense.
What would you tell people who are interested in a housing career?
I would tell them that it is a good career. It offers job security and good benefits and holidays. The potential for career development within the housing sector is boundless as housing encompasses such a diverse range of opportunity.