Welcome to Cadwyn’s staff blog series, Spotlight.
This is where you can find out all about Cadwyn’s fantastic staff and the incredible work they do. Expect to hear from lots of different departments including Neighbourhood, Corporate Services, Supported Housing, Temporary Housing and much more. We hope you enjoy reading about our fantastic staff and that you gain an insight into what Cadwyn life is like.
Today, we’re hearing from Louise Grandon – over to you Louise.
Hi, I’m Louise Grandon, acting as an assistant manager in the Private Sector Leasing Team. I have been in post since December 2017 to provide cover for maternity leave. Prior to this, I was an Income Officer – the artist formally known as Property Management Officer (rents). I started working on rents in 2012 – wow that is a long time ago- it doesn’t feel like it, it has zoomed by! So now I’ve been thrust into the world of marketing, health and safety compliance, one to one’s, complaint management and anything else that comes up. I’ve always joked that our team is like the Marines of Housing – we just get it done!
So, seven year old me wanted to be a hairdresser. By the time I saw a careers advisor I was doing ok in school and fancied a go at being a lawyer. The careers advisor did her best to put me off, however with the stubbornness of youth I persisted. After completing my degree, my LPC and working in solicitors offices for four years it became obvious to me that this legal malarkey wasn’t for me (probably because I use words like malarkey). I still wanted a job helping people that fitted with my ethics, allowed me to give back and to make a difference. Funnily enough, housing jobs were never really discussed as a career opportunity when we were in school. For the first part of adulthood, I had no idea about the housing sector, what did it do? I knew my family had lived in ‘council houses’ but really didn’t think beyond that. Disenchanted with the legal sector I started applying for administration jobs at charities and saw a job advertised with Cadwyn. It’s now been nine years and I haven’t looked back once. I was lucky enough to get a promotion after three years and also most recently this temporary role.
Who doesn’t love a challenge, life would be boring without them eh?! I honestly think I would now struggle to have a ‘normal’ job – whatever that is. The challenge has always been speed, our tenancy turnover is fast and that brings with it all its challenges. So much to do, so little time. That and being the middleman between two opposing views of the landlord and the tenant and acting as a mediator, social worker, enforcer and doing it all with charm and a smile!
I love the fact that we help so many people, at such a difficult time in their lives. It really is rewarding when you speak to someone you have worked with for months and you hear the joy in their voice when they say they have received their permanent offer, a fresh start and a chance to make their new home their own. I love the variety of my work; no day is ever the same. I love my colleagues, a super bunch that manages whatever comes up no matter how random the query. I also love the mountains of cake in the office on any given day.
My biggest goal for this role is to make it pay! It’s a new role for the department so ensuring our scheme is still viable and that we hit our unit numbers and keep our current landlords is important. As well as this, continuing to give our tenants and landlords a good service and securing our income by thinking of new innovative ways to make our service efficient. Another major goal is that we have a happy team, you know what they say, happy workers achieve more and give better service.
Something most people probably don’t realise is that depending on which duties the council has given to our residents, they are not actually tenants. Quick! – I’m putting my legal hat on! If someone is placed with us under the interim duty to house, we issue Licence Agreements, meaning our residents don’t have the same rights under the Protection from Eviction Act. This means that we have much swifter powers of eviction for the occasional resident who is not adhering to the terms of their licence. Following on from some recent case law, this has changed. Now, once someone gets their full duty awarded and if they are left in their Temporary Accommodation for an indefinite period (while the council source permanent accommodation), it changes their residency to something more than transient and gets treated as a dwelling. Meaning although we have more court costs, there is more protection for tenants who by this stage are just waiting for allocation to permanent housing.
My advice to someone who wants to pursue a career in housing would include being resilient, innovative, kind and have a can-do attitude. I certainly had no training in housing or any housing qualification but I had lots of skills that were useful in the sector. These included negotiation, critical reasoning and effective listening – you can learn all of the ‘technical’ stuff with experience. I’ve been able to get a real reward from all of my roles. We support lots of volunteers and there is plenty of work to do and as a sector, you won’t find a set of people more willing to share their learning with others.
I like to look for the nice things in everyday occurrences and to take inspiration from the everyday small differences we make. Sometimes the grace and giving nature of our landlords is an inspiration. We have a multitude of socially minded landlords. It was such a pleasure to speak with a couple recently who were really dedicated to placing their property on our scheme as they felt it was so important to contribute to the social housing need. Like me, they had family who had needed social housing at some time in their lives and they felt it was really important to look at social lettings despite probably being able to get a higher rent on the open market. Meeting people and working with landlords like that is a great inspiration to me.
I may not have a massive impact on our residents in my current role, as they are often not with us long enough to develop lots of close relationships, although sometimes you do work with a family that you really connect with. I recently worked with a tenant who was being evicted from CanDo lettings (our social lettings agency), as the landlord was taking it off the scheme to rent on the open market. I worked with a lovely mum and daughter; they were incredibly nervous about what was going to happen to them and all the “what-if’s”, especially as the mother was elderly and had mobility problems. We had several teary conversations, their mental health was clearly being affected by the process. We worked with the council, identified a property that had a stair-lift which would be suitable and we guided them through the entire process with lots of support and reassurance. It was such a pleasure when she called to say she was so happy and had just signed for a permanent home after 4 months. Queue the warm fuzzy feeling….Awww.