Ben graduated in estate management and gained a postgraduate qualification in housing studies. Starting his career as a volunteer adviser, Ben is now an adviser for a local housing association
After completing his studies, Ben worked as a volunteer adviser with the Citizens Advice Bureaux. He found out about this position through a friend who was also a volunteer with the organisation.
Although Ben had not given much thought to a career in advice work, he found that it allowed him to pursue his interest in housing issues. As an adviser, he was able to offer advice on a range of housing issues, including rent and mortgage payments, waiting lists for council houses, and problems with rented accommodation.
Although some of the issues Ben dealt with were not covered in his degree or postgraduate course, he found that his housing background gave him confidence to assess these problems and suggest possible solutions.
Ben decided he would like to gain paid employment in the advice sector and applied for a specialist housing trainee post with a local housing association, which was advertised in the local press. The position covered several areas, including homeless advice, lettings advice, estate management and general housing advice.
Although graduate and postgraduate qualifications were not required for the post, Ben again found that his background allowed him to deal confidently with the issues that came up.
The role developed from a predominantly face-to-face service, where clients would visit the advice centre for an informal interview, to one where information was also provided on the phone in call centres, or by email, through the internet and with published materials.
Ben's role is wide ranging, and he has provided advice ranging from that provided to young homeless people who have been kicked out of their family home to women fleeing domestic violence. He has also provided information on re-housing.
The enjoyable parts of the job for Ben are when his advice has really benefited the client. Sometimes this is when he has found them a new home or helped them save money or access benefits.
The tough parts of the job are when he has to deal with anti-social behaviour problems, dealing with domestic violence cases or having to go to court to evict people who haven't paid the rent.
Ben would eventually like to move into a management position in a customer advice centre that specialises in housing issues.
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