Category: testimonial, Housing, What Our People Say, Staff Testimonial, Supported Housing, PA Housing, social inclusion, COVID-19, electricians, covid, social action, social care
As his team restarts its work carrying out safety checks in customers' homes, Jamie joins us via Zoom to discuss how he'll be continuing to rely on video to help his colleagues out on-site, and why he's so passionate about communicating the importance of electrical safety.
What is your average day usually like?
I'm an electrical supervisor, based at Case House, and I'm part of a small, relatively new, in-house team that delivers PA's Electrical Installation Condition Reports (EICRs), which have to be conducted in each and every property every five years.
My team and I are the faces of PA when we're out and about, and I believe it's vital that we take time to speak to all of our customers individually. The electrical testing work we do can take a long time – anywhere between two hours and a day – so it's crucial we engage with residents and explain what we're doing and why in order to help put them at ease.
As you can appreciate, all of us use so much electricity, especially at the moment, and when working from home is going to be a more common practice, I think it is essential electrical testing is carried out.
Legally, gas inspections have to take place every year, so gas safety rightfully will be at the forefront of colleagues' and customers' minds. But electricity being invisible, can be no less dangerous, and has the potential to be a huge fire risk.
Customers will tend to think that if their electrical appliances are working, then their electrics are okay, but that's not always the case. So many people try to fix electrics themselves – being able to wire something in doesn't make it safe.
As you can probably tell, I have a real passionate about electrics and raising awareness of electrical safety; and, fortunately, it's something I get to do in my job at PA.
What has your average day been like during the Covid-19 crisis?
Luckily, we’ve been very fortunate and have managed to maintain our service by continuing to test electrics, but in communal areas rather than inside residents' homes. I have such a great team around me; Bradley and Matt have really shown a true PA grit during this pandemic and have adapted to deliver each individual task differently.
As a team, we've really knuckled down and got on with whatever has been asked of us – we've been doing a variety of things that we feel can help the business during this trying time.
A large part of my role as a supervisor in the organization side of things, so being at home, working full-time with two small children has been challenging. My wife is also a key worker in the catering sector, and we have been navigating the work/parent balance like many others. Having said that, we have been able to juggle this (with each other's support) between us, and I've even been doing a lot more personal development than usual, making the most of lock-down to complete some online courses, as well as seminars.
I have found these types of conversations – via Zoom etc. – are going to be much more convenient way of communicating moving forward, rather than going somewhere to have a face-to-face meeting. Also, I'm speaking to the wider members of my team a lot more.
Now we've just started going back into a small number of homes, with all the right PPE, we've been relying on video calls in order to help one another out. Video enables you to visualize a wide scope of problems on-site, and it's something I’m keen to stick with – and maybe something I may look to bring forward for emergency/repairs issues.
What is the most important thing you’ve learned during this unusual time?
I’ve definitely learned how to utilize my time between kids and work! Also, I feel like I've been communicating so much better with colleagues outside of my team with various platforms. I'm now much more likely to opt to call someone rather than email them, as it provides a connection that's needed.
What is your favourite part of your job?
All of it. I enjoy every single part of my job. It seems like it can be such a one-dimensional type of career, but it is definitely not. When you have a role like this, you are relied upon to ensure whoever’s home you are in, is safe. You see something and someone different in every job, that's something you need to enjoy.
Sometimes electrical problems can be a mind-boggling maze to start with, but past experiences have taught you that you have to take yourself back to basics and work from there. I like a challenge.
When you work in social housing, you're not just in someone’s homes to repair stuff, you're providing a social outlet for some people – interaction for people who could be isolated and vulnerable. I find customers like the fact that we're directly employed by PA Housing – they think you're there in their home to listen to them. And we are.
What would you say makes you unique?
Probably how much I want to educate people about electrical safety! It’s a real drive and passion.
I'm keen to ride the wave of all of the new intelligent ways in which communications are changing within PA – it's my personal mission to help PA's customers and colleagues alike to understand how important electrical safety is.