My Working Week

14 May 2014

Thomas Templeton is a Housing Officer within the Helm Housing Neighbourhood Team. He has worked at Helm for nearly twenty years, having previously been employed at the Northern Ireland Housing Executive.  He holds Fellowship affiliation with the Chartered Institute of Housing and has a postgraduate Diploma in Housing Studies.




At Helm I work in the Neighbourhood Team with 21 colleagues, many of whom have over 20 years experience gained in the social housing sector. Our role is wide-ranging and requires skills associated with various other professions including social worker, counsellor and even police officer! Our team members are committed to providing a quality service to tenants and we do this confidentially and empathetically â?? we genuinely want to do all that is possible to make sure theyâ??re happy in their homes. Helm Housing is one of Northern Irelandâ??s longest established housing associations, having been founded in 1975. Over the period of its existence Helmâ??s staff have worked hard to deliver quality housing and first-class services. As well as providing accommodation directly to single people, the elderly and families, we also work in partnership with over 20 organisations to provide homes for vulnerable people who need additional support. These organisations include DePaul Ireland, the Simon Community, the Salvation Army, Praxis Care and Belfast Charitable Society. Our approach means we work with a wide range of age, geography and demographic profiles and often are serviced are tailored with very specific needs of tenants at the fore of what we do.




Today much of my work focuses on supporting the communities where we work. I was involved in the organisation of and attendance at a meeting regarding a proposed land transfer to a local community group to facilitate the creation of a crèche for children under the age of five. The future of housing associations here and elsewhere will see a twin focus on providing sustainable housing and supporting the development of sustainable communities through the delivery of the â??housing plusâ?? agenda. At Helm we place great importance on working to ensure the areas where weâ??re based are great places to live. Helping the crèche take its first steps is part of this work and will make a real difference to the people of the community it will serve. I also organised a Residents Association meeting at one of our sheltered schemes. We work proactively with our residents to understand their views, concerns and issues and this is just one of many meetings we hold through the year across Belfast and Northern Ireland. Tenant engagement at Helm takes many forms including a very active Tenants Forum which meets several times a year; Tenant champions living and working for us in the communities we serve, and we even have Tenants working as trained mystery shoppers.



 Thomas Templeton and Karen McFall

Today Iâ??m based at the Helm Housing offices where I am working with the team answering telephone queries and following up various aspects of the administrative function which supports the delivery of our service. Helm can receive as many as 500 calls per day from the 15,000 people who live in its homes. It is vital that all calls are treated with equal importance. We are also in regular contact with local public representatives and council officials on community issues; frequent liaison with the Police Service; Northern Ireland Housing Executive for tenancy allocation; and statutory bodies and community groups in relation to anti-social behaviour. The legacy of the troubles in Northern Ireland means that issues associated with housing are frequently more complex here than in other regions â?? our collective skills and experience as a professional housing management team allows us to work together to deal with whatever issues arise in the most appropriate manner.



Thomas Templeton


A lot of my time is spent dealing with Anti-Social Behaviour issues and contrary to common belief these are not confined to the actions of young single men but can also involve family issues, neighbour disputes and even the elderly. One of the more complicated cases I am currently involved in is a long standing case involving an elderly vulnerable adult which has been the subject of attention from statutory agencies including the NIHE and NHS but still remains a long way from resolution.  Last week at several different times I was in contact with political parties, the South-Eastern Health Trust and the Police Service of Northern Ireland to attempt to move this issue closer to conclusion. Together we continue to work hard to reach a resolution which will be acceptable to everyone involved. This is where many of the skills which are essential in other professions become very important, as well as the counselling skills we learn in our roles.




Thomas Templeton

 One of the most important tasks we carry out is visiting those tenants who have submitted housing transfer requests. Our work here is about assisting people who, for various reasons, need to move to a new home. The associated issues can be complicated and people are often very emotional simply due to frustration at being trapped somewhere they no longer feel they can call home. It is rarely straightforward as there are frequently family issues such as the breakdown of family units or the loss of loved ones. Weekly I check on properties where I have had cause to serve an Abandonment Notice. This is to ensure that there has been no intrusion into the property and no vandalism, or if the rightful tenant has returned.



All in all a busy week which endeavours to ensure our tenants across Helm homes in Northern Ireland are safe, secure and happy in their homes.



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