I was recently musing about my career, and how, if ever I was asked, would I advise and encourage others to join this amazing sector. Looking back, working in the housing sector for a forward-thinking housing association wasn’t a conscious decision for me, as my own path began almost by accident while at university studying public services. It seems strange to think now, but my dream job was to be a police officer!
As part of my course, many hours of voluntary work were required, so I chose to help at a homeless shelter. This led to work in a domiciliary care agency, supporting people within their homes, and would prove to be a turning point that would determine my future.
P.T. Barnum said, "Unless a man enters upon the vocation intended for him by nature, and best suited to his peculiar genius, he cannot succeed."
I realised my skills lay in support and not enforcement and if I was to be happy, I would have to follow my heart.
After my university studies and much to my parent’s dismay, I secured a position as a full-time carer within a specialist care home for people living with dementia, eventually being promoted to an Activity Coordinator. The home was receiving really good reviews and recommendations and to my surprise, I was asked to lead the Midlands and Wales Activity Coordinators to discuss good practices, and develop our programme further.
However, my first real taste of the housing sector began when I secured a position as Scheme Manager for a Sheltered Housing Scheme. This role made me realise how important housing was to ensure people could remain independent in their own home, reducing reliance on, or need for health and social care services for longer and I could help improve people’s lives by being proactive. I could make a difference. This decision – to make a difference – led me to take another position as a Wellbeing Advisor, utilising my growing skills set, and of course, my passion to support people.
I embarked on a Professional Housing Practice qualification through the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) and had the opportunity to attend the 24Housing Young Leaders conference, helping me to realise my skills and how I could develop them further. The natural next step in this development was to manage a team which led me to Aspire Housing and my role in the Older Persons Service.
Managing a team has been an amazing experience and another learning curve – enabling me to learn everything about our organisation, and what leadership means – how to coach and empower your team to be successful, and as ever, to make a difference.
Aspire Housing also provided an opportunity for me to become a Uimprove facilitator which taught me how to manage and scope projects, deliver continuous improvement, and to build my confidence in delivering solutions to problems. It was a thoroughly empowering experience and I believe lay the foundations for me to win Employee of the Year last year.
Maybe I’m lucky, but my job provides the space and opportunity to try new things, to be creative and to try new solutions, even if they don’t work! Take a look at our organisation’s values – to be ambitious, creative, and collaborative. These three themes result in a service that supports customers and colleagues to work together to ensure we have communities that flourish.
So, would I say the housing sector provides a great career path? Absolutely, yes, and I for one am looking forward to improving our services further to create a happy, healthy, and empowered community.
Patricia Roberts - Older Persons Strategy Lead at Aspire Housing