Reanna with her young son

Access to affordable childcare would enable employment aspirations

Reanna Hyde, 25, joined our Youth Housing Panel last year. Growing up living in council housing in various different parts of the country, Reanna wanted to share her experiences with others, and find out what she could do to shape the future of social housing.

She said: “I’ve moved around a hell of a lot since I was young – loads of different places in London, including Enfield, where I was born. We then moved to Kent, to Tonbridge and then finally when I was 16, my parents brought us to Oxford.

“This means I’ve seen a lot of different houses, and varying standards of properties and gardens and maintenance. It’s given me plenty of ideas about what makes a good home. I met my partner in Oxford, and last year I had a little boy, Freddie. I think having him has added to the way I think about making a home too, I imagine his future and what I want for him, but also what I want for myself.

 “Being on the panel is leading me to learn a lot about myself and others. I notice that a lot of people I cross paths with – they are looking for their purpose – where they fit in the world?  I’m working, but what if I was a single mother or on Universal Credit? How would I cope then? I’m interested in things like Universal Basic Income – people shouldn’t be penalised for working or not working, for being in a couple or being single.

“If I leave my baby to go out to work I want it to be worthwhile, I want to be able to value what I am doing. I know that, in turn, that will make my boy want more for himself later on.

 “One of my major challenges right now is employment. I was furloughed and on maternity leave for more than a year from my position as a receptionist in a hotel, and now, due to those hours being reduced, I’m taking up a caring position.

“One of the reasons that this job works for me is because I can do weekends, when my partner or a family member can watch our little boy. This is essential for us as childcare is really expensive, but if I retrain or think about a different career path with more regular working hours, then I stand to lose money.

“I do feel a bit backed into a corner, when what I want to feel is confident that I could afford a nursery setting where Freddie will be really nurtured and prepared for school.

“If Sovereign could fund childcare costs so that people could work more, building crèches or nurseries on new developments, or introduce them to their existing estates I think that would be a wonderful thing. 

“Being on the panel has opened my eyes to different opportunities too – I’m wondering now, would I want to work for a housing association? Most of the Sovereign staff I’ve encountered seem to love their jobs – nobody’s moaning about what they have to do! So now I’m thinking ‘What can you offer me?’ ‘What would I get from your job?’ ‘Are there good benefits?’ Just watch this space while I find out!”