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From the Kickstart Scheme to living the dream

Category: testimonial, Testimonials, Apprentices, Staff Testimonial, Supported Housing, PA Housing, apprenticeship, apprentice, social housing, Apprenticeship Programme, kickstart careers, National Apprenticeship Week, kickstart scheme

Career and Talent Development

Meet Lucy Hill, Tenancy Solutions Apprentice at PA Housing

Meet Lucy Hill, our Tenancy Solutions Apprentice at PA Housing

Hi, I’m Lucy! A few months ago, I started at PA Housing through the government’s Kickstart Scheme for 16–24-year-olds looking for employment. I joined the Tenancy Solutions Team here who help to deal with residents’ concerns. But then, a long-term apprenticeship role became available within the team, and luckily, I was successful in getting the job.

Before I started at PA, the country was in the middle of lockdown. During that time, I had a range of jobs such as a mental health support worker, customer service in various supermarkets, window cleaning, all sorts of roles! At a certain point, I thought, “I can't do window cleaning anymore.” It's not a job where you can move up the ladder… so to speak. In fact, I've been working since I was 15 because I went to college and studied hairdressing. I've done unpaid work experience alongside college, worked in travel and tourism, but I hadn’t done anything in housing prior to this.

When I left my job at the supermarket because the hours weren’t right for me, I became unemployed. My advisors at the Job Centre said, “We've got a new scheme starting up that would be ideal for you.” When the PA Housing role was mentioned, I was instantly drawn to it. The weird thing was, my family and I are housed in a PA home, and I had previously applied to work with them 3 times before. However, I was unsuccessful because I didn’t have that experience in housing. Therefore, the Kickstart opportunity was perfect. I finally got the job because it was designed to develop the skills of young people who may not have the experience yet.

I knew I wanted to do something that gave back to the community, and when this opportunity arose, it introduced me to the world of social housing. In my role as a mental health worker, that certainly was about giving back to the community. Nonetheless, I felt like it wasn’t for me because it was often distressing. So, I was grateful for the Kickstart role as it was purpose driven, it was connected to where I live, and it taught me a lot about the industry. The role came at just the right time, and everything fell into place after the Kickstart role. This apprenticeship almost seems made for me! I like a challenge, and in this role, I work on totally different cases every day which always keeps things interesting. It's definitely the best job I've had so far!

I consider my path to be quite unusual. Working for PA and living in a PA property, I get to see both sides of the situation and the impact the staff make. This opportunity has definitely given me an understanding of how busy the staff are here. It has also allowed me to see why certain processes and responses can take quite a while. When you’re looking at this work from the outside, you sometimes think they're not responding or they're not doing something as quickly as they could. But then, when you work here, you realise how much everyone does within a day, so it has given me a greater respect for the staff.

As for the future, I would generally like to expand my knowledge of social housing. Of course, I want to successfully complete my apprenticeship and then, maybe in a few years’ time, move on to Tenancy Enforcement or something within PA so I can slowly work my way up the ladder (although not for window cleaning this time). At the moment, it's about gaining experience, knowledge, and the skills to work within the team. So far, the training here has been amazing. It's nice to feel wanted within a company, especially a relatively large organisation like PA. In previous roles, I was treated like just another member of staff, whereas here I feel like part of the team.

My biggest achievement so far has been securing the apprenticeship because I never would have thought that I'd be in this situation at the start of the pandemic. It was a very stressful time, and it really knocked my confidence. Not seeing people face-to-face and having to do interviews online was a real learning curve. Using the internet to communicate and look for jobs was a strange experience. If I hadn't been for Kickstart, I would never be where I am now. It would be amazing if there were more schemes that supported young people without much experience. So many jobs require experience and, obviously, when you’re starting out, you don't have any.

Another positive aspect of the Kickstart placement at PA was being enrolled in employability sessions run by Clarion Housing. The teachers were lovely and supported me a lot with CV writing, professionalism, and best practice for job applications. When it was time to apply for the apprenticeship, they built up my confidence to go in and have a face-to-face interview because I hadn't done one since before lockdown started. I was thinking, “Oh no, this is make or break!”, but the fact that I could message them, and they would get back to me straightaway with support and tips made me confident in my people skills again.

Now that I'm here, it’s nice to be earning a decent wage. I’m no longer on benefits which has been great for my mental health and my health in general because I'm out and about, meeting people. Those aspects of myself that I lost during lockdown have been regained with the help of PA Housing and the Kickstart Scheme. Therefore, my advice for young people looking for employment would be to maintain determination and consistency. If you don't have those, it's easy to get disheartened when you’re not accepted. Don't be knocked down by ‘No’. It just means that you weren't meant to be there at that time. There's always another opportunity to apply for something you will enjoy.

In my spare time, I love playing sport such as cricket, football, and rounders. As I've got younger siblings, I like to join in with what they do. Sometimes, all 5 of us will go to the park and join massive games of cricket or rounders. However, I just enjoy being active which can also mean going to the gym. I adore healthy living! When I’m at home, I like to eat healthily too because it helps to develop a healthy mind. I don't really like to sit down. I always like to be busy or doing something productive. There's always something that you can do to better yourself. That can also mean reading a book, for example. It’s important to keep building your knowledge, influence, and confidence and I can’t overstate how much PA’s involvement in the Kickstart Scheme has helped me to achieve that.

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VERCIDA works with over one hundred clients who are committed to creating an inclusive work environment. If you are an employer and interested in working with VERCIDA to promote your diversity and inclusion initiatives and attract the best candidates, please email [email protected] for more information.

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PA Housing

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