This GEM shines bright in the housing sector

As part of the Homes at the Heart of a Stronger Economy week, our Neighbourhood Delivery Manager Michael shares his experience of joining Onward through the GEM programme, a national initiative that supports graduates into the housing sector. Read our first blog about the support we offer to customers here.

What particularly interests you about working within the housing sector?

As we all know, housing is one of the most important parts of life – this is reflected in the housing crisis, media headlines and the changing environment we operate in as a sector. Being part of a housing organisation means we are often able to make a real difference to peoples’ lives. In this way, myself and the majority of my colleagues are able to find a great deal of gratification in helping some of the most vulnerable people in our communities. This is why working in housing has always been a particular interest of mine.

What’s your journey within the housing sector been like?

When I graduated with a sociology degree in 2015, I applied for a graduate position as Neighbourhood Specialist at Onward via the GEM Programme, which aims to create opportunities for graduates within the sector. I was responsible for delivering various housing management functions, such as lettings, ensuring compliance responsibilities and obligations were met within our blocks, managing anti-social behaviour cases and general delivery of face-to-face customer service.

Two years later I applied for the role of Safer Neighbourhoods Team Leader, managing a team of Safer Neighbourhood Specialists responsible for anti-social behaviour and domestic abuse cases, and making sure our neighbourhoods are a safe place for residents to live. I have recently transitioned into a new role as Neighbourhood Delivery Manager, leading a team of Neighbourhood Specialist delivering housing management services within our Merseyside region.

What do you like about working for Onward Homes?

You can probably already tell why I enjoy working at Onward – I have had the opportunity to deliver various roles that I’m interested in, I have been able to access opportunities such as external training programmes, professional qualifications and have regular conversations on how I can develop within my role and how I can help colleagues develop within theirs.

In addition to being able to shape the experiences of individual customers, Onward gives me the opportunity be part of something bigger and make a positive difference within the communities we serve. We do this by working in our regions and driving changes at a neighbourhood level. As part of my current role, I am responsible for leading a team to develop and deliver on neighbourhood plans, which ensure we are delivering the right services in the right neighbourhoods to the right customers.

What job opportunities do you feel that the housing sector offers? 

The housing sector offers a variety of roles and there are many opportunities outside of housing management. During my time on the GEM programme, I had the chance to spend time and experience various roles outside my own around the organisation, including tenancy support, income management, repairs and development. This was a great opportunity to understand different perspectives within my organisation and the housing sector more generally and how colleagues work collaboratively to support customers.

What advice would you give to anyone who may not have considered housing as a potential career option?

Surprisingly, I come across many people who have never considered choosing housing as a career option. My general advice would be to think about your values and if you have an interest in making a difference and helping people then you should certainly consider housing as a career choice!

The skills and roles that you learn in professional roles can often be transferred to a role in housing and you are able to apply these in an open-minded and value-centred environment. Personally, from having family, friends and colleagues working in various roles within the housing sector, there seems to be a role for everyone.

To find out more about the current roles available at Onward take a look at our website – we’d love to hear from you!

Customers wanting to find out how we can support you into work and training, find out more here or give us a call on 0300 555 0600

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