27 Sep 2023

Spotlight - Meet our members: Mark Baillie

Image of Amy McClelland, Policy and communications executive at Northern Ireland Federation of Housing Associations

Discover more about the members of CIH Futures Northern Ireland. Today, we're sitting down with Mark Baillie, policy and public affairs manager, Homeless Connect.

Why did you decide on a career in housing?

I had come to a point professionally where I knew that I needed a change. When I was looking around at options in the public policy space, the Council for the Homeless (as it was then known) was advertising for a public policy officer. I have always wanted in my professionally life to do something which makes a real difference. At the time, my dad encouraged me to go for the job even though I had no experience in homelessness policy. He has worked with a lot of people who have experienced homelessness and thought I could use my skills well in this area. So I applied and the Council for the Homeless decided to take a chance on me.

How did you start your career in housing?

I have now been with Homeless Connect (our name changed in late 2021) for just over two and a half years. It has been my only role in the sector so far.

What do you love about your job?

I have really enjoyed working for Homeless Connect. It is brilliant to work with so many deeply committed people who want to make a difference. Homelessness policy touches on so many different areas so it has been a steep learning curve, but I am thankful to Homeless Connect for the faith they have put in me and the huge range of opportunities I have had working here. I have learnt a huge amount from our CEO, Nicola McCrudden (formerly of CIH), not only about housing and homelessness but also about management and working with people. I have particularly enjoyed visiting our member organisations; working with people with lived experience of homelessness; and helping to set up and run the All Party Group on Homelessness. Even on the difficult days (and there have been some), I have never had any regrets about joining the organisation.

What has been your most memorable experience working in housing and why was it so special?

It is very difficult to pick one! I would say that the visits to our member organisations have been some of my most memorable experiences. The frontline staff I have met in the homelessness sector are some of the most remarkable people I have met. The level of commitment and desire to support to people I have encountered as I have met staff is truly humbling.

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