I really appreciate how lucky I was to find my first role in social housing; it has led me to a job that I love in an organisation I feel privileged to work for. I grew up in social housing and, in fact, my parents still live in social housing, and I think that helps me to do my job as I understand both perspectives.
I understand that the properties we own and manage aren’t just assets – they’re homes. I don’t think I could ever work in a different sector as there’s something very special about knowing we’re all working together every day to provide safe, warm, lovely homes for thousands of people.
Landing my first job in housing was a pure fluke. I had just been made redundant from an administration role and I decided to take some time to decide what I wanted to do next. I had been in retail for 10 years and didn’t know whether to change direction entirely and try a different sector or just stay put. Within a week, I was working for a registered social landlord as PA to the Chief Executive – I’m still not 100% sure how that came about but it was the best thing that could ever have happened to my career!
As you can imagine, going from PA to Health and Safety Manager has involved a number of roles and lots of training, which is one of the reasons I love working in housing; there are such diverse roles, from administration and support to working out in the community with our tenants. I’m lucky enough to say that I’ve experienced both ends of the spectrum and I’ve managed to land right in the middle, which is perfect for me.
I now have the best of both worlds. I get to work with staff, supporting and coaching them so that they can work safely in their jobs and go home fit and well at the end of every day, and I get to work with our tenants, helping and supporting them to be safe in their homes.
Some people consider health and safety boring, but it’s far from it! Every day is different. Today I spent the day writing a risk assessment, updating an action plan and carrying out an audit for gas safety. Tomorrow, I’m visiting blocks of flats to carry out inspections and meeting a tenant to discuss volunteering with us. Next week, we’re having pet therapy sessions at our office as part of our mental wellbeing at work initiative. No two days in housing are ever the same but they are always really interesting.
Gemma is a Health and Safety Manager at Rhondda Housing Association