(Read time: 3 mins)
I never really enjoyed school, and left without many GCSE qualifications. Teachers didn’t invest the time in engaging with me and just put me down as being disruptive. My experience meant that I didn’t want to go on to further education after completing BTEC Level 2 Engineering and went straight to full time work, mainly in a cake factory. I didn’t want to stay in this industry as I knew that I could put my skills to better use. I have always been really good with practical skills, as I am technically minded and love taking things apart and putting them back together.
Due do my aspiration to become an engineer, I researched plumbing and gas courses and fell in love with the idea of studying and learning this trade. I excelled through college, being voted student of the year in my first year was a key highlight. I felt focussed and determined and I knew this was where I wanted to make a career for myself. When it came to applying for apprenticeships, I tried all the local companies and contractors but I just couldn’t get my foot in the door. A friend suggested trying a Housing Association, so I approached Newport City Homes and volunteered within their Gas and Plumbing Team. I was immediately hooked by the world of housing and the ethos of community. Learning with trained professionals who mentored me gave me so much knowledge and invaluable experience.
My advice to anyone looking for an apprenticeship is you have to put yourself out there, give it a go and get your foot through the door. That’s what I did, and It paid off. After volunteering I was lucky that an apprenticeship came up at Newport City Homes, I applied and was successful. I stayed with NCH for 11 years and moved to CCHA last year as a Gas Compliance Officer for career progression after development.
I am hooked by Housing. I believe Housing Associations make such a positive, vibrant difference in their communities. Last year I joined the Board of Melin Homes and I am really enjoying finding out about the organisation and their values. I have volunteered to help with their schools project which inspires young people in primary and secondary schools and teaches them life skills and all about careers in housing. This is one of the things I think we all need to do more of; promote the array of career opportunities in housing. When Housing Associations support you, communities can thrive. I think it is really important to engage with wider audiences, to ensure we have diverse voices represented in our housing workforce across all housing associations. Before a friend mentioned housing associations I didn’t know what they did and what a positive impact they had – so we must all spread the word.
Sanni Salisu Melin Homes Board member and Gas Compliance Officer at CCHA