Katie'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 fourth finalist Katie Howells from Merthyr Valleys Homes
Whilst completing my second year at university I began working as a Social Enterprise Café Manager for a great charity; Llamau. During my time there I got to meet a number of young people who shared stories of the positive impact the advice, support and most importantly secure and stable accommodation that the charity offered had on their lives. I also witnessed the social challenges these young people were met with every day while trying to make positive changes to their futures.
This really stuck a chord with me; growing up on a council estate I was very aware of the stigma that surrounded social housing and although I feel over the years this has reduced; it is still an issue within some communities. This image is often negative and is made worse by the TV programmes that portray social housing in the worst possible way.
After completing my degree a job in Merthyr Valleys Homes was advertised. The role included developing a new innovative Housing Co-operative on an estate in Merthyr Tydfil renowned for its reputation; the estate has been the subject of some of the most offensive stereotyping of social housing. The role was a fantastic opportunity and two years on I haven’t looked back. The Co-operative is now built, it has been amazing to see the confidence of the Members grow and also to be a part of their story.
In addition to the Co-operative I am the Executive Support Officer and within my role I have the opportunity to drive service improvements to ensure our tenants are getting the service they deserve. I believe everyone should be entitled to a quality home and the type of ownership is just a choice; but every family should have a right to a decent secure property they can make ‘home’. The people I know who live in social housing do not want charity or to be treated any different to people in other housing tenures. What they want and deserve is great housing options, something I believe the sector is striving to deliver and something I really want to be part of.
Since leaving my childhood home I moved on from social housing to the private rented sector and back again. Over the years I have witnessed change in social housing and believe it is better now than it has ever been, but there is room for improvement. Organisations that genuinely have their communities’ best interests at heart have the opportunity to change people’s lives and prospects, through housing and employment.
Merthyr Valleys Homes is a mutual housing organisation and I really love the building of relationships between employees and tenants, breaking down the barriers and helping to remove the stigma of social housing. I want to be proud to provide the best housing service and I want our tenants to be proud of living in the best housing.
I believe Housing is such a wonderful sector to work in with so many committed and passionate individuals and I will continue to strive to be the very best I can be in my role to ensure our tenants get the services they deserve. Class and income should not be the defining factor in whether you live in good secure housing - everybody should.