David's housing journey - New Housing Professional 2017
We asked our New Housing Professional finalists to blog for us on their housing journey, and what they think makes housing a rewarding career. Here's our second finalist, David Roberts from Newport City Homes.
Housing was completely new to me when I joined Newport City Homes (NCH) in July 2015.
I’ve always worked around some form of accommodation, from hotels to innovation centres, but had never worked in an area where the accommodation was people’s homes. Satisfying a short stay away or providing facilities for young businesses to grow taught me the importance of budgets and customer service. However, this was just the tip of the iceberg. Looking after people’s homes has really emphasised the importance of what everyone does each day at work.
I deal with service charges which affect every resident and is a high profile subject ever since the Welsh Government laid out new requirements in 2014.
For nearly two years I have been continuously learning about service charges; what they are, the legislation around them and how to calculate them. But that merely covers the small tip you see above the surface.
The depths service charging reaches across the organisation means I’ve needed to learn how the entire association operates. This covers everything from how we organise our properties and how departments record costs, to most importantly the impact we have on and the communications we have with our residents.
My role has enabled me to understand not only how housing works, but also how outside influences shape our work. Whether through changes in government policy on service charge de-pooling, the transition to Universal Credit or the impact of policies like the Local Housing Allowance.
At NCH we put residents at the heart of what we do, and sustainable and affordable service charges help us meet that objective. However, to get the most from this work, our residents must understand what we are doing, why, and how it affects them.
Working through the wealth of data and processes lying under the surface is satisfying and it’s great to be good at what you do, and even better to be involved with so many different teams. However, on top of that, we need to make sure we don’t lose touch of what we’re trying to achieve.
Customer interaction lies at the centre of my experience, and what makes housing so different for me is that connection with the resident. The attention to detail and understanding of each individual is oceans apart from a commercial environment, and that’s what makes housing rewarding.
Engaging with our residents, testing information with them and listening to what they think we could improve, builds relationships.
Consulting on service charges has not always been fun, or ‘cool’ for residents, but the more they understand about their charges the more constructive and positive the relationship becomes.
Sharing how the system works, the efforts to make it fair and reasonable, and communicating it in the right way for your audience – then having that two way relationship with residents about their home – shows a level of trust and creates a standard to uphold.
Upholding those standards is what makes housing a truly rewarding career.
Find out more
- You can support the finalists in person by joining us at TAI 2017, Wales' premier housing conference and exhibition
- Free places for CIH members at TAI 2017