My housing story: Rebecca Simpson
"You will find endless opportunities to get involved and challenge yourself": Homes for the North policy officer Rebecca Simpson shares why learning is so important to her.
Housing isn’t an area that’s really talked about as a career option at school, college or universities, despite the fact that our sector employs literally thousands of talented and committed people with a real social purpose at its heart.
For me, housing wasn’t a conscious choice but when I spoke to a friend of my mum's about what it was like to work for Incommunities, it just felt like a good fit. It was a job working with people in an organisation that holds strong values around fairness, opportunity at its core. When I was first interviewed I remember asking the question about opportunities for career development, I was told that there was always room to grow and ambition was welcomed. Over the years I’ve worked at Incommunities that has certainly been true for me.
The really pivotal moment for my career was following my time on the GEM programme. I joined the programme through its ‘talent in-house’ route where people who are already working in housing are offered a place on the programme to help pursue career progression through education and series of learning away days – ‘GEMshacks’. What the programme did for me was definitely career changing. I learnt so much during the 12 months of the programme, through studying for my CIH qualification giving me a solid grounding as a true practitioner of housing and through the GEMshacks where we explored housing across the country and debated key issues with colleagues and leaders in the sector.
I took every opportunity to get involved in the programme and have continued with that ethos ever since. I moved on to work in the ever-changing world of housing policy and have now joined Homes for the North working to influence leaders and key decision-makers to develop an improved housing offer for the North with a prosperous economic future at its centre. It’s really exciting work!
I find, with our wonderful sector, the more you look you will find endless opportunities to get involved and challenge yourself. Last year, I was nominated for 24housing’s Young Leaders competition, my biggest challenge to date but a huge opportunity to share my views and experiences on a big stage. I was proud to finish as runner-up after delivering a presentation centred on the importance of trust in our sector.
I’m involved in many different ways with different parts of our sector volunteering for all sorts of projects, but at the heart of what’s important for me is being a credible professional who is knowledgeable and trustworthy. That’s why I’m now working towards Chartered status with CIH via the GEM programme to crystallise my commitment to the sector as a professional. There are many ways to develop a career in housing and promoting professionalism ensuring young people know there are a wealth of opportunities to be had is a message we need to make sure gets out there to as many people as possible.