“In the days when I was a graduate housing trainee, there were student grants for obtaining a housing qualification, and for working in such a great sector. Today, that’s all gone, so housing organisations themselves are finding and developing their own talent for the future” says Accent South Regional Housing Director Rob Mills.
One of the ways Accent does this is through the Charityworks programme. Charityworks is a non-profit sector graduate scheme, recruiting and placing graduates in a network of charities and housing associations across the country. The prpgramme launched in 2009, and it has steadily grown. This year, 5,000 applications were received for just 140 placements. The competition, and calibre, is very high, and applicants go through a rigorous recruitment and selection process before they are matched to the host organisation. For the past three years, I have been an external mentor on the programme, which has given me a great opportunity to meet and support graduates working in other organisations. I have been so impressed, I recently applied to join the Charityworks board.
Lara Sherwood joined Accent’s Southern based operations as a graduate housing trainee last year. Talking about her time with Accent, Lara said she feels incredibly lucky. “Having known very little about the housing sector when I started, my role has been eye-opening and challenging, but full of learning opportunities, and I received great training and support. Managing my patch of around 200 homes and supporting the regional lettings team has enabled me to develop so many skills, and a far greater understanding of not only the work housing associations do, but also a range of public services and agencies.”
Lara, who will be leaving Accent shortly, produced two pieces of research during her placement on supporting independence and assisting tenants affected by the benefit cap. These have proved very useful and a number of the recommendations Lara made have since been implemented.
Being part of the Charityworks programme has been a beneficial and enjoyable experience to Lara in every aspect. As she prepares to leave Accent, Lara said she felt lucky to have worked among “a wonderful collection of interesting and driven people, who are working hard to support their tenants.”
For Accent, it’s been great having Lara as part of the team and she’ll be missed.