I was working in Direct Sales in Melbourne, and whilst walking home one day I noticed a soup kitchen for the homeless. Being in sales you have the confidence to talk to people so I talked to them and listened over the coming weeks. Sales was a very demanding and challenging environment and although I had been offered sponsorship I knew it wasn’t what I wanted for a career. Talking to the homeless made me further evaluate what I wanted and opened up an avenue I wanted to explore.
Upon returning to England, I volunteered at a homeless shelter and trained to be a volunteer with a Drug & Alcohol agency. After gaining some work experience, I applied for a role as a Project Worker for a Housing Association and it has continued from there.
My role is complex and so requires me to be adaptable. I work within Pathway 1, an all-male pathway so this involves weekly agency meetings with other providers to support residents gain or regain the skills need to live independently. I am responsible for the buildings that I manage, delegating tasks to the team to ensure that we are compliant with H&S expectations, as well as monitoring rent and service charge budgets and moving people on successfully to their new home in a positive way.
Having people skills is important in my role. I currently have 54 residents, 5 staff and maintain many relationships across different council areas, building a sense of trust and respect for my services and Elim is very important. There are times when I need to be decisive with immediate actions and there are other times when I need to know when to take a step back and evaluate the situation, seeing the bigger picture.
About six months into my Elim role managing Hathaway House, a Supported Housing project for people aged 35+, I was told that the project was not going to be recommissioned. After relocating my family for this role, it was a real blow.
The process of relocating the residents took about 18 months, and I was able to secure funding for the residents to move into homes with white goods, curtains, carpets etc, as well as supporting residents find suitable accommodation where their needs could not be met in the community. It is very difficult to convey into words the challenges faced, in particular having hard conversations with older residents who thought Hathaway House was their home for life.
Many people would have looked for a new job during this time, but I genuinely believed in Elim. There was a high chance of me losing my job at the end of the transition, but I did not let that deter me from doing the job to the best of my abilities to support our residents. I acted with integrity and my commitment was rewarded with a new role being offered to me within Elim.
A few years ago we were able to support a female resident who had a history of drug misuse. There were periods of ups and downs as living on Jamaica Street can be difficult with the options that you have on your doorstep. The Supported Housing Officer (SHO) was skilled in their approach when working with the resident, developing techniques to manage their drug use. A referral was made to Bristol Drugs Project and over time we could see a positive change in the resident. They asked to be referred to The Junction Project, an accommodation-based drug and alcohol service. The resident was successfully accepted and moved on to the next stage of their recovery.
The resident later secured a volunteering role with Bristol Drugs Project, wanting to give something back to those who had helped her. She then obtained employment and contacted me to ask if we could use some Peer Mentors within the project to help current residents. She was able to come and talk at a resident meeting leading to some residents requesting if they could also volunteer.
The resident recently got into touch with me again, she had applied for a senior management role within the sector, and I am proud to say that she was successful!
I have worked a variety of mundane jobs prior to working with Elim, but they were never a career. I am passionate about what I do and what we are trying to achieve here. There is something satisfying in helping others, to give someone a chance they may not have had in the past. I love the challenge and the variety of my role within Elim over the last 10 years and could not see myself working in another sector. When we get positive move ons and feedback, it makes it even more worthwhile.
Elim are proud to be able to say that 80% of staff in Team Leader roles were appointed via internal promotion. We are proud to be a forward-thinking, performance-driven organisation that recognise our highly-skilled and dedicated staff are our greatest asset in achieving our vision: to meet housing need and deliver homes that change people’s lives.