A day in the life of a Tenancy Sustainment Officer

Sam Wilson, November 17, 2014

As a Tenancy Sustainment Officer working in social housing, my work focuses on helping our tenants keep a roof over their heads. They may need advice on money management or claiming certain benefits, so I provide useful advice in 1-2-1 sessions.

In a recent case, one of our tenants had her Housing Benefit stopped because there was a change in her circumstances. As a result, she had built up over £3,000 worth of rent arrears. After gathering all the facts and relevant information, I supported her with an appeal. She was awarded the full backdate of Housing Benefit that she was entitled to, which put her back on track with her rent. Its cases like these that show the positive difference my work can make to others.

Assisting tenants into employment is another important aspect of my work. I’ve been running a weekly Jobs Club for over six months, where tenants can get help with creating CVs and searching for jobs. I also signpost them to meet with an employment advisor from the ETHOS Project, an organisation which advises on job applications and interview techniques. It means a lot when I see a tenant secure work after attending the Job Club or meeting with an advisor. Making sure people have the skills needed for employment is also vital, so I work closely with the Workers’ Educational Association to offer free courses such as Basic Computer Skills. Our Brighter Futures Fund provides free financial assistance to tenants who want to study for a qualification or retrain in a new career path. These grants have helped tenants to train in areas such as beauty therapy, fork-lift truck driving, tourism management and accountancy.

It’s essential that people have access to clear information about welfare reform, as well as advice on energy, employment and money management. I’ve written articles for our website and tenant newsletter, all aimed at increasing tenants’ awareness of these issues; and what they can do themselves and how we can help them through it.

I feel that my job goes the extra mile because it provides support for tenants who may not know which way to turn. I understand how much pressure being in debt can put on a person, so it’s very rewarding when I’m able to help someone turn their life around.

Huge thanks to Natasha Stanley at Roseberry Housing Association for the above.