Category: testimonial, Housing, What Our People Say, Staff Testimonial, Supported Housing, PA Housing, social inclusion, social work, officer, Social Impact, property, social care
Today we talked to Jasmine, and her 16-month-old daughter, Autumn, via Zoom and found out what it's been like to work at home with two young children and a puppy. We also discuss the stereotyping of social housing tenants, and the importance of being kind to yourself.
What is your average day usually like?
I get up at 6am to sort the kids out and leave the house at 7.20am to get to the office at 8am. My partner drops our children off at day care and the child minder, and I pick them up, which involves me leaving work at 4pm on-the-dot.
As a Resident Liaison Officer within the Midlands Stock Investment Team, I can be out a lot on visits, building face-to-face relationships with customers who are having new kitchens and bathrooms fitted. I work closely with my team and our contractors to make sure we are constantly communicating with tenants.
I used to work in PA Housing's Customer Contact Centre as a Coach, ensuring the quality of interactions with customers. I only ever started the job in order to earn some money after I'd had my first child, but it's gone crazy!
After my second child, I had post-natal depression and anxiety, and it was a challenging time. During one of my 'keep in touch' days, I saw the Resident Liaison Officer vacancy on the intranet, and I knew how much I wanted to do something new. I was offered the job a week before I was due back at work, so I went straight into my new role.
It was nice to start afresh, and now I'm starting to think further ahead, at the training and development opportunities I want to pursue, with support from PA. I've had my children and now I'm looking forward to developing my career.
What has your average day been like during the Covid-19 crisis?
Working from home in lockdown has been horrible – and what's made it really difficult is that nobody has been able to fix the situation. Schools and childminders couldn't open, and the family members we have always relied upon have been unable to help.
Until my son started back at day care, I had two young kids at home with me, as well as a brand-new puppy, which I would say is more difficult that having a newborn baby to look after – newborns can't move. My partner was originally furloughed, and we thought, "What better time to get a dog?" But days after our Frenchie, called Freddie, came home, my partner was taken off furlough!
With no kitchens and bathrooms being fitted, I haven't been able to do my usual job, which means I have been heavily involved in making welfare calls to PA Housing customers. The nature of my job means I'm usually able to leave 'work Jazz' behind and focus on being 'mum Jazz' when I'm at home. Since lockdown, I've found it hard to switch from one role to the other and I started getting very stressed about making sure I worked all of my hours – that's when my manager suggested I reduce my hours for the time being, and it's helped a lot.
What is the most important thing you’ve learned during this unusual time?
I've learned how hard I am on myself – I need to be kinder to myself. I've learned this through my team and from PA as a whole.
The message from the executive team has consistently been "We know people are trying their best", and throughout all of this, my teammates have shown me how much they appreciate me. They check up on me most days to find out how I'm doing – I've really seen what amazing people they are.
What is your favourite part of your job?
It's helping to give people an amazing new kitchen or bathroom, which they can choose for themselves. I grew up in social housing and I remember when my nan got a new kitchen – it was like she'd won the lottery.
I love meeting people, all the different personalities. I'm very passionate about breaking down the stereotypes that exist around the kind of person who lives in social housing. There really is no one type of tenant.
What would you say makes you unique?
No matter what I’m dealing with, I’m always positive. I've recently been diagnosed with hypermobility spectrum disorder – my joints flair up and it can be very painful. I'm always cheerful because it helps me to ignore it, and also, because I know how much a smile can make a difference to someone’s day. My team would tell you that I can always be relied upon to bring the crazy... and the snacks!