I am a Housing Manager within DIO’s Service Delivery Accommodation team, managing the delivery of the housing service to 2,300 properties across an area which extends from North Yorkshire to Northumberland and Cumbria. I manage a team of eight Housing Officers to cover this area, based in Catterick Garrison, Boulmer and Newcastle.
We provide a housing service for military families and other eligible personnel. We aim to support families by providing accommodation which meets their needs, is properly maintained and provides an easily accessible repairs service. This supports families and, hopefully, allows Service personnel to carry out their duties with the minimum of concern about the environment that their family back home are experiencing.
Working in Military Housing
The world of housing is extremely varied and each day brings a different challenge. This is why I've remained working in Service housing since 1995, when I returned from a career break. Until then I had not considered the possibility of a career in housing but, having been introduced to it, I realised that I had the opportunity to contribute to a service that was making a visible difference to the lives of military personnel and their dependents.
Whilst often challenging, housing offered a sense of satisfaction that I hadn’t experienced previously in my Civil Service career. I found that I was part of an organisation which actively sought to improve both the infrastructure and the housing service. It listened to feedback from customers and from its own personnel, which offered everyone the chance to contribute to making improvements.
One of the areas that we felt we could improve was our visibility within Service family estates. Our contact with families was limited to the necessary appointments and a lot of business was conducted via the telephone. Families felt, quite understandably, that it was a faceless service. A new policy called Total Patch Management has been introduced to address the problem.
The new system allows time for our Housing Officers to visit sites, respond to things such as requests to keep pets, run a business from home or add a satellite dish to a property, together with other issues which can be dealt with at the “sharp end” of the business. So far it has been well received by families who enjoy getting to know their local housing staff. It seems to offer them some security to see a friendly face that they recognise from their initial move in.
In an environment where families regularly move to new areas and, in most cases, have no family support locally, a helpful face which becomes part of their world is welcomed. Total Patch Management goes a lot further than simply identifying extra work that we need to undertake, it helps to engender trust in the housing service.