Stevie Chadwick – former apprentice communities administrator
It’s hard to believe that I started as an apprentice at Sovereign just three years ago. I hadn’t got a clue about housing associations or community work really, if I’m on honest. But what I did know was that I liked working with people and that I wanted to learn and get paid for it at the same time - which is why an apprenticeship was ideal for me.
At first, the hardest thing really was feeling like I was capable. I didn’t know anything about social housing, or budgets, or who was who in the team. But the better I got to know the job – the more I felt like I could answer questions and make decisions. I could see how the things that I did really supported the team.
For example, in my apprenticeship role I helped keep track of budgets for supporting residents, noting where the money was going, when it was being handed out, and how much was left for other projects.
I was also active in organising a whole series of events for staff and external people where we went out and asked our stakeholders what we were doing right, what they didn’t want us to do for them, and how we could best engage with our communities. I went to most of those meetings and learned so much just by being in the room.
Things were going well, but then the pandemic hit. All the face to face work we did had to stop. But in a way it worked in my favour. I had real time to reflect on what I wanted to do, looking at how I could help myself to ‘step up’. As step one, I signed up to the Housing Diversity Network (HDN) mentoring programme.
A few months ago, as part of a workshop being run by HDN, I took part in a workshop looking at personal values and how they fit with your work – what is intrinsic to you and what is learned behaviour. We also talked about the ‘locus of control’, ie how much of your life is up to you and how much is chance?
It was a brilliant session – and one that really had an impact. We were told to write down our goals, because that’s the way to make them happen. I wrote down that I wanted to continue to build on my knowledge of the housing sector by attending webinars and taking study opportunities, that I wanted to start volunteering, and that I wanted to progress within Sovereign.
And I’m proud to say I’ve stuck with all three goals – I’ve been working with the RVS calling vulnerable people and chatting and keeping them company all the way through the last year – and hopefully I’ll continue that in person once lockdown ends.
I also found myself a mentor. Their support gave me the push I needed to feel more confident to really go for it at work. I’ve been focusing on my strengths - such as being adaptable, observant, and flexible - but also developing skills like resilience, and innovation.
Finally, when a colleague left their role, I realised that the time had come to push myself. No more watching from the sidelines – it was time to get on the pitch. I applied – and I’m happy to say I was successful in getting - the position of community development officer for North Hampshire.
I cannot tell you how excited I am to get started. I love being in a job where I can make a real difference to people’s lives. And it’s thanks to Sovereign’s investment in me and my career that I’ve got this far, this quickly.