A day in the life of... a community caretaker

Continuing our series in which we look at the various roles of staff in NHG, we focus on community caretaker Benjamin Sowa.

When did you join NHG?

I joined NHG in October 2019 having moved to the UK from Ghana in 2018. In Ghana I was a project manager with a private firm working on social and economic issues in the community for stakeholder engagement on behalf of an oil company.

What is your role?

I am a community caretaker at the Adastral North estate, near Grahame Park in Colindale, which has around 90 properties across 14 blocks. My role is to ensure the estate is in good condition. I maintain health and safety standards in communal areas and act as a contact between my managers, the housing officers and the residents, which I enjoy. I also help update newsletters and notice boards.

What can a typical day look like?

I usually get to the estate by 7:30am and walk round to assess what needs to be done that day. Fly tipping and dumping in particular are an issue. I service five blocks a day, Monday to Wednesday, making sure they are clean and - these days – sanitised. On Thursdays I get the waste and recycling bins ready for emptying, checking where possible that the recycling is not contaminated with non-recyclables. On Fridays I attend to any outstanding issues and finish litter picking on the estate.

How has the current lockdown or COVID 19 conditions changed your job?

The one area that has changed a lot is contact with residents as we’re all trying to stay safe. It’s hard not to be able to talk to residents the way we used to. I now always have my mask and gloves on and I make sure door handles and such are always sanitised.

What do you find the most rewarding?
Knowing I’m playing a part in a larger picture, helping and reassuring residents so they’re happy and feel safe.

What are the frustrations?
Bulk waste and fly tipping. It happens frequently and it’s not always from NHG residents, but it’s manageable.

What do you do in spare time?

When I first moved to the UK I did a plumbing course and I’m keen on DIY so I’m always looking to do jobs around the home. I like to draw and paint, especially with my daughter who is one and a half years old. I also like reading a lot.

Is there a situation with a resident that stayed with you?
Seeing a big ‘thank you’ drawing displayed from one of the residents’ children during the first lockdown. It really meant a lot to know I was doing something right.

What is the one thing you would like residents to know about where you work?

When I started my role, my manager asked me to put my picture on the notice boards. I put a message next to it which said, ‘I am here to serve. Help me do the best job I can’. Building a relationship with residents is good for the estate.

Funniest thing a resident has said to you?

I overheard a resident speaking in Fante, a dialect of Akan, one of the 80 languages spoken in Ghana. I greeted her in that dialect. She was in shock. As we talked it turned out that she was from the same area of the coast of Ghana where my father is from. Other than Fante and English, I also speak Ga, Twi and some Russian as my mother was Russian.

Benjamin was interviewed by Colin Burns, one of our involved residents.

See also:

A day in the life of a care worker

A day in the life of a housing operations manager

A day in the life of a floating housing officer

A day in the life of a customer service advisor