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22 Feb 2024

A day in the life of a supported housing officer

Why and when did you join Notting Hill Genesis?  

I joined back in 2003 as a volunteer at the Elgin Close Resource Centre in Hammersmith, as an activity officer.  

I was learning English as I had just arrived in the UK the year before to start a family here. Being a volunteer was a continuation of my community involvement back in Romania, my birth country. My experience and skills were what the centre needed which has since become a community hub. In 2004 I started working as a support officer and later as an outreach officer which involved reorganising the day centre with a variety of activities for the regular members as well for drop ins. 
What is your role?  

My current role is being a supported housing officer at Baths Court, a sheltered scheme for people over 60 in Hammersmith and Fulham. As a supported housing officer, I have a wide range of duties which can sometimes feel overwhelming, so it is important to be organised and impose a structure to my days.

What can a typical day(s) look like? 

I am the first port of call for many of our residents, dealing with signing up new tenancy agreements, raising repairs, offering support or intervening when an emergency occurs. I do try to plan my day as best I can, but I am on call for any unexpected issues such as pull cord alarms, fires, medical emergencies or simply if a resident is having a difficult day. These tasks are mixed with admin or repairs requests through My Account, general management of the scheme and signing up new tenants. The most rewarding part of the job for me is putting on activities with the residents such art classes, trips, bingo, social club and gardening.

How did the lockdown or Covid-19 conditions change your job?  

I am responsible for ensuring the safety and wellbeing of our residents. During the pandemic it was not possible to meet the residents to explain our enhanced welfare check process due to the isolation procedure. It was a lot of effort to gain their consent and discuss contact preferences and conduct the welfare checks. Our priority was on writing letters, calling them and following up to ensure this was agreed and understood fully.  

This process was followed by my residents, but the dramatic episodes of the pandemic affected me to my very deep core, especially when I had to fill in for other colleagues at different schemes. All my residents and colleagues were affected differently, but the whole experience gave me the challenge and opportunity to understand the sense of life in a different light. My priorities in life changed after the pandemic in a deep way, now I think I am a different person, hopefully a better version of myself. 

How is the cost of living crisis affecting Notting Hill Genesis? 

The cost of living crisis is having a significant effect on social housing tenants, making their lives even more challenging. I can see that we as an organisation have made every effort to support our tenants over this period, keeping our social housing purpose ethos over all areas of activity. 
We have a strong heritage and leadership to answer the challenges as a social housing provider and we are setting up an organisational restructure and integration process to provide a variety of support for residents and staff. The crisis underscores the need for collective action to alleviate the burden on vulnerable tenants. 

One thing you would like residents to know about being a supported housing officer that they might not know? 

I would like my residents know that I try my best to manage everyone’s solutions even on my busy days when I can have up to 10 or more issues that need my attention at any one time.  

What do you find the most rewarding?  

Having satisfied residents and building sustainable professional relationships with them as well as my work colleagues.

What are the frustrations?  The fact that I cannot fix all technical issues in time to have a more progressive approach to my day so I would be able to run more activities with my residents. 

What do you do in spare time?  

My spare time is dedicated to my family and for organising projects for a few charities and community associations that I am part of locally and globally. I also give time to my passions of writing, painting, translation and publishing. 
Is there a situation that you were able to resolve that stayed with you? 

A fire broke out at the scheme on Christmas Eve, started by one of our vulnerable tenants. Fortunately, I was able to stop the fire saving her, the building and myself from the flames with minimal damage for all involved.

Funniest thing a resident has said to you?  

I work weekdays 9am-5pm at Baths Court, and recently a tenant asked me ‘who is chopping lemons at 1am in the morning?’. It really made me smile, but I had no idea, so I’ll have to follow it up!