I had become a cliché – a single mother on benefits living in social housing!
For the first time in my life I experienced social shame from the negative social-stigma attached to my new reality.
To me the future looked bleak!
When I saw an advertisement for Scrutiny in Cottsway’s resident’s magazine, I applied – to gain a recent job reference (as I previously worked for 16 years in Los Angeles) and importantly they covered childcare costs. Little did I know this small pro-active step would change the trajectory of my life.
On the day of my interview it was hot and I was heavily pregnant; I almost didn’t show up, but a little voice inside me said I needed to go.
During the first few months of training I was able to take my new-born and breastfeeding was accommodated in meetings. Over the passing months, as my confidence grew, I clung onto the Scrutiny Panel as a lifeline.
Somewhere along the line, I developed a passion for housing – I caught the housing bug!
Housing is like a secret society where everyone within it is passionate about what they do, but somehow, curiously, this fact remains hidden to the outside world.
Cottsway supported my thirst for knowledge, funding a CIH Level 4 qualification in Housing Studies. I am currently the Chair of the Scrutiny Panel, a Board member on the Chartered Institute of Housing’s SE Board, and with the support from Cottsway, I am now in my final year of my MA in Housing Studies at the University of Westminster. This year I became recognised at a Peer Mentor for Tenant Central and I have had many opportunities to speak on Cottsway’s TPAS Award winning Scrutiny model. I want to give back by sharing my personal experience and the benefits I have experienced from becoming involved with my landlord.
My decision to show up that day, when I felt my life was falling apart, was one of the best decisions of my life.