"The best thing about my job is knowing that I can have a really positive effect on tenants’ lives"

Financial Inclusion Team

There’s been a lot of negative press surrounding the roll-out of Universal Credit and part of my job is to reassure tenants as well as to help them throughout the whole process of making and sustaining a claim.  The benefits system isn’t the easiest thing to understand and it can be very intimidating at times.

I’m Simon and I’m part of the Financial Inclusion Team. I work primarily with the Housing Team which is based at the Bell Lane Office in Lewes. I also work with the Homelessness Prevention and Mental Health team at Frederick Place in Brighton.

I help tenants with benefits queries, budgeting issues and ensuring that they have the necessary skills to get online safely - which is particularly important given that the world is increasingly moving online and away from paper application forms. 

One of the great things about my role is that each day can be incredibly varied. Usually I will see a tenant in their home to help resolve a particular issue following a referral from their Housing Officer or a member of the Tenancy Sustainment team. 

At the moment one of the hot topics is welfare reform and the switch towards Universal Credit. There’s been a lot of negative press surrounding the roll-out of Universal Credit and part of my job is to reassure tenants as well as to help them throughout the whole process of making and sustaining a claim.  The benefits system isn’t the easiest thing to understand and it can be very intimidating at times.

The best thing about my job is knowing that I can have a really positive effect on tenants’ lives. To see the lift in someone after I’ve helped resolve an issue that’s been weighing on their mind is extremely rewarding. 

In terms of challenges, our tenant base has a very diverse set of support needs so it’s about figuring out a strategy that will enable you to best meet the needs of each individual.  It’s not always easy but it is always worth it when you crack it.

The work the whole team does day-to-day makes me feel very proud - there isn’t really one thing I could pull out of the pile. I’m just a cog in a bigger machine and we’re all focused on making our tenants’ and clients’ lives better.

I spent 19 years in print and paper before I decided on a career change about six years ago and went to work for a local authority.  To be honest I didn’t know if it would be a long term thing but I had a feeling that I’d be far happier in a role where I felt like I was genuinely making a difference.

 

The Financial Inclusion Team was created to increase financial and digital inclusion for clients accessing Southdown's services. They do this through equipping colleagues with skills and knowledge on welfare reform and being digitally capable, as well as providing direct support for clients when needed. Areas of support include preparing for the roll out of Universal Credit, claiming the correct benefits, being digitally capable and safe, managing claims online and budgeting skills.