11 Jul 2022
I left school in the 70s after not doing very well with my exams due to a mysterious illness. I’d found my final years a struggle, and it wasn’t until I was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism that I understood why. After leaving, I successfully completed a BTEC course and then had an opportunity to work locally for Telford Development Corporation on a nine-month work experience placement. I eventually applied for a position within the housing department and never looked back. I always say to people that I fell into housing, but nevertheless, this was where I belonged.
Life in housing has been full of challenges – the landscape is always changing in order to adapt to societal needs and the environment. When I left Telford Development Corporation I was offered a housing officer post within Bromford Housing and was given the opportunity to complete the Chartered Institute of Housing Certificate and Diploma – this is where I developed my real thirst for the sector. I was able to study and undertake research in housing policy, development, finance and law, all of which gave me a greater insight into a sector I truly loved.
I have completed a number of qualifications but when I started my CIH qualification at UCE Birmingham it cemented my love, and I then went on to complete a housing degree. I never thought I was good enough study for a degree but with determination and thorough enjoyment of the subject, I passed with flying colours. I also gained CIH Chartered Membership. I was so proud of myself and it started to give me the confidence I’d previously lacked to continue on my housing journey. I believed in myself and knew that anything was possible I worked hard and put the time in.
Whilst in my current employment at Shropshire Council, I was given an opportunity to complete an MBA in Business Administration at Wolverhampton University, which included Chartered Management Institute Level 7 Diploma in Strategic Management and Leadership. I was able to link some of the housing work I was doing to my MBA, designing housing projects for alternative housing options in order to reduce the use of bed and breakfast accommodation as temporary accommodation; redesigning housing services to make them more effective and efficient; and designing private sector allocation service to include improving new ways of working with landlords. The work I had put into my MBA give me the opportunity to focus on achieving fellowship status, something I had wanted to do for years but kept delaying. Something had been holding me back but I was starting to feel worthy of the accolade, really believing in myself and that I was making a difference in the housing sector.
I just needed to complete the Fellowship application, provide evidence of my CPD and obtain two references. The application was self-explanatory and not difficult to complete. I was tickled pink when I finally completed my application, albeit a little anxious in case I had not done enough. However, I was very overwhelmed when I was successful, finally achieving a personal goal of mine to become a CIH Fellow.
I strongly feel that every day is a school day, and we all need to keep learning and developing to become the best professionals we possibly can be. This enables us to keep up to date in the housing sector and deal with the varied challenges. COVID-19 has challenged our whole way of life and how we work with our customers through technology. It’s great how we have all adapted, and I’m happy to say I am still the enthusiastic, committed individual that I was when I first started my housing journey. I’m really looking forward to the chapter ahead.
Wendy Jay is a senior housing options officer for Shropshire Council.