07 Oct 2020

Learning at work week 2020: My learning journey to fellowship – Catharine Hinton

Female student

I have always loved animals. Big cats especially, so from an early age, I planned a career working with animals and went on to do a degree in zoology. Then, I fell into the world of social housing – a common phrase used among the many individuals who answer an appealing job advert, only to find themselves in a vibrant, interesting and ever-changing sector.

25 years later, I am extremely proud to have just achieved fellowship status of the Chartered Institute of Housing, the most senior membership grade offered which ‘recognises highly experienced professionals who have made a huge impact on housing.’

My journey to fellowship meandered through different qualifications. I started with an NVQ and HND in housing, and then, because I already had a degree, I signed up for a Postgraduate Diploma in Housing with Birmingham City University. I was fascinated by learning about the social history of housing – how housing, health and politics intertwine alongside the rights of women and the lower-paid to access and own properties. My studies also enabled me to do some independent research into the women’s refuge movement and local provision.

At the time, CIH was going through changes to the membership requirements. and I wondered if I’d have the right documents in place to achieve my membership. I was pleased to find out that with this level of qualification and some additional personal statements and references, I was able to gain CIH Chartered Membership.

I took a break in learning while I had young children and then completed a Master of Science in Housing Studies with De Montford University. I completed my dissertation on higher-level skills, knowledge and behaviours in housing and property management – researching what employers were looking for in their senior management employees.

This year I set myself a personal challenge to complete the administration required to put forward my fellowship application. I found the process straightforward and it was rewarding to reflect on my career and the different roles I have had.

My role now is in teaching and training others in the housing sector, I love what I do and I am constantly surprised by how much there is to learn in housing. Just this year, COVID-19 has changed the way we work and driven change in unexpected areas. We are all getting to grips with working from home, working virtually and keeping up with the changes to apps such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams. It is this continual change and stimulation that keeps me in the sector – and why we all have to keep learning and developing.

If you are thinking about whether it is worth doing the extra work to gain chartered or fellowship membership of the CIH my recommendation is to go for it. Make a start on the form, ask for references, and start compiling your evidence. It can seem overwhelming, but it has been a wonderful and valuable journey for me.

Oh and those big cats? One day I will get back to my original career plan, perhaps when I retire!