Creating homes and places where people want to live

It’s National Apprenticeship week!

It's National Apprenticeship Week, and the theme this year is ‘Build the Future’, which couldn’t be more apt for NCH! 

Many people are using apprenticeships to help develop their skills and knowledge in order to advance their careers. People of any age (over 16) can undertake an apprenticeship. It’s no longer used just to start a career, but as an effective route for career development.   

Terri-Ann France works for Nottingham City Homes as a Temporary Accommodation Officer. She’s part of a team that provide for temporary accommodation for families, single parents and pregnant women. All families receive support aimed at reducing the cycle of repeat homelessness, sustaining future tenancies and looking for more permanent accommodation. 

Before joining us, Terri-Ann worked in social care with Nottingham City Council for eight years, and then for one of the UK’s largest property management companies, Places for People. 

She joined the NCH Temporary Accommodation team in December 2018, and was determined to make a difference to the lives of those families in need. Terri said:

 “When I was five, my Mum and I were made temporarily homeless. While I don’t remember the exact details, I do remember how unsettling and confusing I found it and watching my Mum struggle day to day.” 

“I’m sure that experience – and my own desire then to help other children and families that find themselves in the same situation – gave me the hunger to learn. Not having enough food, living on the streets, dealing with the uncertainty – they’re all very real and immediate fears faced by the families I deal with, and ones with which I can fully empathise.”

 Terri-Ann was keen to develop her career with NCH, and improve her knowledge and skills to help her provide the best possible service to the people she helps each day. She said: “I knew I wanted to boost my learning through a practical qualification.

I’m not a social worker, nor am I a therapist, but I am there to listen and to offer very practical support. So the Chartered Institute of Housing’s Property Management Apprenticeship Level 4, which I studied for with Access Training, was a perfect fit.” 

An apprenticeship is a hands-on way to learn and work at the same time. Terri-Ann’s apprenticeship assignments have been of practical use to her team and the residents they support. She said: “I’ve created 15 ‘how to’ guides, aimed at helping staff and guides for families to successfully manage the running of their home on topics such as how to register with Homelink and apply for private rented properties. It’s all about enabling our tenants to develop the life skills – how to budget and manage money, understand which benefits they’re entitled to, and tap into community support such as food parcels – which will allow them to live well in permanent accommodation.” 

NCH currently employs 32 apprentices, with an extra 11 employees like Terri-Ann who are undertaking an apprenticeship as part of their professional development. Last year we were the only Nottingham-based employer named in Apprenticeships Top 100 list. 

Terri-Ann said: “My manager and team have been brilliant throughout my course. They have given me flexible working time to enable me to finish assignments, offered support with reading and checking my assignments. They have provide me with the time during my working week to allow me to do my research. I can’t thank them enough.” 

Senior Temporary Accommodation Officer Hilary Fyfe Hardy said: “Terri-Ann is a huge asset to our team, she is cheerful and enthusiastic. She works really hard, not only to provide the best services for our residents but also on her apprenticeship. The coronavirus pandemic has been hard on everyone but Terri-Ann has continued to demonstrate her dedication throughout. She’s studying remotely alongside her full-time job as well as looking after her son. This paid off last year when she received a Commitment to Learning Award from Access Training, and we see the results every day in the skills and knowledge she brings to her role.”