Jessica Reid is a senior neighbourhood relations officer at Gateshead Council.
I joined Gateshead Council as a clerical assistant, and basically just worked my way up as best I could, moving between departments to gain experience and learn new things. I started off in education, but after placements in housing, I found that I really had an interest for it, so I decided to undertake a part-time degree in housing studies.
I was lucky that my employer supported me in doing this, and they paid the fees and gave me day release to attend university. Whilst completing the degree I continued to move around jobs until I really found an area of interest, which is the team I’m still in now.
I think while the degree wasn’t necessarily specific to my job role, because I worked in housing, it gave me a much wider view of the Council and I was able to really use my knowledge I gained in the degree to help develop the team and the service, which ultimately led to me gaining a few promotions to the senior position I’ve got now.
I manage a team of 13 officers, so there is no such thing as a typical day, as I try to ensure the team are motivated and supported, and have the tools and skills to carry out their duties.
The role has developed a lot, and continues to do so as we have to react to changing legislation, and trying to work with hard-to -reach groups, which can be challenging. I also look to continuously develop my skills and my employer is great for training and enabling me to develop my career.
I suppose the role changed the most when the council formed a housing company to manage the council housing a couple of years ago. Many councils across the country did the same, although we still work very closely with the council, and adopt a lot of their policies and strategies. There are a lot of benefits working in the public sector, whether it be for a council or a housing company, such as good salaries, generous holidays, good pension scheme, job security and loads of opportunities if you want them.
I really enjoy the varied and challenging nature of my job, and that no two days are the same, although it can sometimes be quite challenging working with groups with diverse needs.
My advice to anyone interested in a career in local government would be to have a really good understanding of the diverse needs of customers, and remember that good customer service is important in virtually every role and department.
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