Blog: Meet one of our Community Housing Officers
30th November 2022
Twelve months ago our team of Community Housing Officers (CHOs) was created, with each CHO given a set area to work in. This followed feedback from our customers who said they would prefer a dedicated, named housing officer they could get to know and go to for any help or advice. Feedback has been fantastic – of our customers who have met their CHO so far, 70% said that it has improved their satisfaction with us as a landlord.
Karen, our CHO in Blakenall, talks us through a typical day:
8.30am Today is an early start as I have a welcome visit with a new customer who needs to leave for their work shift. This is an important visit as it helps me identify any support needs at an early stage and explain all the services that we offer.
9am I dash to the venue where I host a monthly drop-in session where customers can ask us any questions about their tenancy or the community. While setting up the room I take a call from a distressed customer, who is being kept awake by anti social behaviour and speeding cars. This is affecting her ability to get up for work and focus on her job, and she asks for whg to move her. These calls are very difficult and much of the conversation is taken with simply listening. In this case I unfortunately have to set realistic expectations as to what whg, as a landlord, can and cannot do. The reality is, we cannot take tenancy action against a person unknown. Anti-social behaviour on the streets is a police matter and she must report this to them. I arrange for her to meet me at a local community venue with a PCSO so that she can discuss her concerns.
Midday: A complaint has come in from an owner-occupier about a customer who has an overgrown back garden. I meet the customer to discuss the situation. As a Community Housing Officer I work with people to identify together the best next step for them, using all the strengths and resources they currently have or may have access to – it’s about ensuring that we are providing the right help, advice, and support at the right time and that the customer is taking ownership to resolve the matter for themselves.
The customer tells me that he struggles with his mental health and has let the garden slip as he has lost motivation. He has no friends or family around and cannot afford a skip. We set up an action plan together. I refer him to both our Money Advice Team and our Social Prescribing Team who will support him to establish support networks. The customer agrees to ask his neighbour if he would assist him with strimming the back garden. A simple conversation has empowered the customer to try and resolve his garden issue. I agree to call him the following week to see if this had been arranged.
2pm I head back to the office for a quick lunch. The remainder of my afternoon is spent responding to emails and calls, making necessary referrals and catching up with colleagues to share ideas.
Another busy day in the life of a CHO!