You have worked in housing for a year and a half now, how has it been?
It’s been a rollercoaster! We’ve had highs and lows but it has all felt like we are going somewhere (hopefully not around in circles!).
A highlight has been the development of our partnership with Women’sTEC and successfully gaining funding for our European Social Fund programme, SPEC (Supporting People: Empowering Community). We have had tenants completing a number of courses recently: seeing people enjoy and benefit from these courses has been great.
We have been working hard to create much needed opportunities for people to live in Shared Neighbourhoods. This is challenging work but the regular emails I receive from people who are desperate to live and bring their children up in areas that are shared are an important part of what keeps me motivated.
What do you see as the priorities going forward?
With regard to Shared Future, I am deeply committed to making a real difference. There has been an enormous effort to deliver initiatives and programmes to promote and embed peace in Northern Ireland. There are cross-community activities happening and the urge to “be active”, to “participate” in programmes together, but little changes. We need to take up the mantle of developing a Shared Future, and play a more meaningful role in making it happen faster so that living together becomes a way of life in Northern Ireland.
Another key priority is supporting tenants to develop pathways to employment. Around 70% of our neighbourhood tenants are female-headed, single-parent households. We want to provide support for tenants who are struggling to get work that is valued and sustainable.
Is there such a thing as a typical day?
This is a new role in a fast paced environment and getting it established has meant a lot of groundwork and learning the business of housing and Clanmil. Whilst time spent at my desk planning is important, there is nothing I love more than being out of the office, seeing what we do in action. This really helps drive me on in what I do.
An exciting part of this is our SPEC programme, it is really empowering to speak to tenants who are enhancing their skills and work opportunities through our gardening, painting and decorating or tiling and mosaics courses. I also love how this links into the development of a community and the empowering of people to do those jobs around the house that they always thought were beyond them.