The seeds for a career in lettings were planted as Tracey Adams experienced one of the most challenging periods of her life.

As Tracey studied for a law degree, her world was turned upside down after it emerged that her beloved grandmother had suffered a stroke and needed end of life care.

With little family support to care for the lady who had played such an important role in her life, Tracey stepped down from university to spend precious time with her grandmother.

After the sad passing of her grandmother, Tracey knew she wanted to get into lettings but didn’t have the relevant qualifications.

She spent a spell working part-time at an estate agent, running the lettings operation in a temporary capacity.

But Tracey was looking for something full-time and spotted an opportunity to secure an apprenticeship with LiveWest.

Tracey, Apprentice Lettings Adviser said: ‘’At the end of my grandmother’s life I started work part time at an estate agent and ran the Lettings department there. I was on a short term employment contract and I was looking for something full time.

"I knew I wanted to get into rental lettings, but I didn't have a qualification. I applied for roles and often I was shortlisted for interviews, but I wasn't getting the jobs though as I was told I needed more experience. That’s why an apprenticeship is so good as you are getting a qualification and the experience at the same time.’’

Several unsuccessful interviews came and passed until Tracey spotted an opportunity to secure an apprenticeship with LiveWest.

And she is loving every minute of it.

“I had always been very close to my grandmother as she played a vital part in my upbringing, My grandmother was always there for me. I had experience in providing end of life care as I’d done it before, so I had an insight into what |that was like.

“The rest of my family said that they couldn’t care for her and that the option to go into a care home seemed inevitable, but I knew neither my grandmother or I wanted that. It wasn’t an easy thing to do, but I did it and I wouldn’t change it for the world."

Tracey is now gaining her apprenticeship qualification in lettings, a field that she wanted experience in after working at an estate agent. Here is what she had to say about her experience as a LiveWest apprentice. 

‘’Learning though work has been interesting and the better part for me. I would say the learning outside of work is a bit harder.

"There was an issue at the start of my apprenticeship when my tutors and mentors were learning themselves, so it’s been a little bit of a learning curve on both sides, but we are getting there. The main part of my Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) work is done now so I am now submitting my evidence and doing my independent study.’’ 

‘’I’m part of the New Build Lettings team and I was based in our Weston-Super-Mare office.

"A lot of my team are based in Tolvaddon in Cornwall though, so we were far apart. We used to meet in Exeter to have team meetings. I’ve even travelled from Weston-Super-Mare down to Cornwall so that I could experience being with the team.

"One of the best parts of the last year and working throughout lockdown is that our team meetings are now online. We’ve all got to know each other so well.  That helps you to bond as a team.

"We’ve had new team members start as well and it has helped us to support them as they are learning their role from home. We are all jumping in and doing what we can to help each other. We’ve all had to completely change the way we were working. If someone understands something better or if there’s an issue, then it's raised so that’s been a positive.’’

‘’The learning curve of an apprenticeship is a continuous one because life is a learning curve. Some elements of my apprenticeship have made me look deeper into the laws behind our methods though. This gives you a bit of a better understanding about things.’’ 

‘’I'm in my 40s, it’s good to showcase that apprenticeships aren't only open to young people.’’ 

‘’Most people are shocked by my age when I say that I have seven grandchildren and I’m an apprentice.

‘’I prefer practical working, that’s my preferred learning style as I’m more hands-on. My course learning is done remotely, so I don’t go into a college. I really like my work because I know this has an impact on real people’s lives and my main drive is to help others.’’ 

‘’The most satisfying part of my job is knowing that I’ve been able to help somebody step into a happier chapter of their lives.

"There have been a few people that I’ve dealt with that have stood out, where they have needed somebody to take the time and give them advice. I’ve taken families from application stage right through to their successful lettings sign up and for me, it’s about knowing that I have made a difference.’’

‘’My team leader, Kerry Bate, has been amazing. If I ask her any questions, she is quick to respond. If she doesn’t know the answer she will try to find out or she will signpost to how I can find the answer myself. If I’ve asked colleagues questions, they are always helpful and supportive. I like that at LiveWest we are always encouraged to learn from each other.

"When we were working in the office you could go and sit with other teams, I know that’s not an option right now, but we can do things together online which helps you to understand that you play a significant role within the organisation.’’

"LiveWest have taken the right steps to keep our colleagues safe during the coronavirus pandemic.

"We all been asked if we can go out into the community if required, and this has been risk assessed.

"There have been webinars, we have been signposted to advice and I've been supported by my team leader and my team. LiveWest have been good about keeping us up to date with current restrictions too. As well as being clear about how this could impact our roles and how it may impact our customers. 

‘’I would recommend an apprenticeship to someone thinking of applying. My teenage children have been asking how they can apply for an apprenticeship when they finish school and my partner has asked me about them as well. I've told him to keep checking to see what’s available.

‘’The main advantages of an apprenticeship are that you gain experience and learn through an apprenticeship while earning money too.

"This was quite important to me as I have a family to support. For anybody that can’t afford to not have an income, it's ideal. It gives you the chance to gain a qualification, get experience and network. It’s also good for helping you to get back into work if you’ve had a career break or are changing careers. That’s what worked for me.’’ 

‘’It’s nice to be part of a team as an apprentice because when you need support, you can all be there for each other.’’

‘’I’ve always been customer-focused. LiveWest has 'being customer-focused' as one of its core values. I try to make customers feel valued and appreciated and in turn that gives me the feel-good factor.

"You could do something small, but it might make somebody’s day without you even realising it. I’ve had several customers who have wanted to send me thank you gifts. I turn them down but it’s great when they send a message to my manager or post a card.

"This makes me feel proud and it makes everything feel worthwhile. Everyone at LiveWest is part of the puzzle that helps provide a home for everyone. I’ve had customers crying on the phone to me (and then I had a cry myself afterwards). With new build homes, you're not just managing expectations but emotions as well. A new home is a pure relief for some customers.’’   

‘’I am proud to work for LiveWest. They have been good to customers, colleagues and communities and have gone above and beyond throughout the pandemic.

"I’ve seen support in the form of welfare phone calls, grants and signposting for those that need it. Colleagues have also been given the chance to provide feedback and when that happens, it feels like you have been listened to. Even our Executive team have made it clear that they are happy to be approached with feedback. It makes you feel valued and that you have a voice.’’