I should first start out by saying I never wanted to work in housing. I wanted to work in fashion. But you soon realise that a Geography degree isn’t going to make you the next Anna Wintour. The only other thing that I was interested in was regeneration. Liverpool had been selected as the European Capital Culture in 2008 the year before I graduated, and the city was starting to transform in anticipation. A family friend told me about the role of housing associations in regeneration, and advised me to look there for a potential role.
Riverside was advertising for its Graduate Trainee scheme at the time, so got my application in and successfully went through the process. The role was based in the new Carlisle office and first placement was in the Regeneration department primarily working on an employment initiative for customers. This was really different to the type of regeneration I had envisaged, but actually was more important as was genuinely transforming people’s lives. Further placements across the business followed, which gave me a really comprehensive understanding of the business; and a 12 month secondment working for the Managing Director on the new Corporate Plan. At the end of the Graduate Trainee scheme I was promoted to Senior Customer Services Officer. I decided to leave Riverside after 2 and half years for new opportunities, and working for both local authorities and other housing associations in a variety of roles including strategic housing, regeneration and community investment. I gained so much experience in these diverse range of roles, but what they all had in common was housing and the aim of trying to create better places and opportunities for people.
In 2017 I returned to Riverside as Head of Strategy and Planning. I was so grateful to be returning to such a good organisation, which wanted to make a genuine difference to its customers’ lives and the communities in which it operates. My current role is varied and to be clichéd, every day is different! From responding to Government consultations to working with the Riverside Foundation to delivering conferences. I can’t imagine working in any other sector now as I really feel fulfilled by the work that I do. Though, there is still always a copy of Vogue next to my Inside Housing!