We've had a quiet day today and have spent the day clearing clutter out of some of the kitchen cupboards - I found 12 rolls of cooking foil! Back in the days when I was working and I used to run into Morrisons or Asda for my weekly shopping after a day at work, my half frazzled brain must have thought I needed foil each week to have that many sitting in the cupboards - they were all in different places, so I blame my hubby completely as he always puts the shopping away and must have been putting them away wherever he could get them in! Oh well they'll keep and means that I don't need to buy any foil this year!
Moving on from where I left off last time - I spent 4 happy years as a Housing Assistant in that original office. That was back in the days when we were 'generic' in other words you had your own 'patch' area and you did everything within that area, so you let the properties, you did the arrears, you did your own evictions, you checked out repairs, everything.
I also covered front desk and you would end up dealing with anything 'council' related like bin collections, benefits and claiming benefits, road repairs and housing related repairs - in those days we used write out a job ticket, when a customer reported a repair and then passed it onto the carpenter/plumber/plasterer etc., when they came into the office to have their lunch - there was no waiting months to get a repair done in those days - the job was enjoyable and no two days were ever the same.
In those days, it was all about knowing your area, knowing your customers - the good ones and the bad ones, knowing what the issues there were both with the properties and in the area and you got to know the people on the waiting lists for your area. It was all about the people and the properties then, nowadays it's all about key performance indicators and how many awards that the business has won this month. I loved it then. It was also my introduction to how people lived - at first it used to shock me then eventually nothing shocks you any more.
Each Monday morning I'd wait for the keys to come in from the properties that had got to be let that week and whilst I was waiting I'd print off the arrears list and look at who'd paid their rent and their rent arrears and who hadn't during the week before, I'd then get the arrears letters out to the worst offenders on a Monday and the rest of the letters would go out during the week - Monday afternoon was spent allocating the properties, (once the keys were in) looking at who was top of the list and whether the property suited their needs and then sending out the offer letters. I'd arrange the gas and electric safety checks and then make arrangements to visit the properties with a surveyor in tow, I'd then have some idea on how long it would take to get the keys back from the repairs teams and could tell the prospective tenant how long they'd have to wait till they could book the removal van.
You could guarantee that if you were offering a house out to a couple that had been in a flat or living with parents that they would be in the office twice a week asking if the keys had come back in. It was a lovely part of the job when you handed those keys over to someone who had probably been waiting a few years for a home with a garden.
It was single applicants who had the longest wait for properties, I always remember that there was a nice young man who used to come into the office, he was profoundly deaf and was only 17 years of age, his Mother had taken up with a new man, and the proposed new step-father didn't want him living with them so had thrown him out. He used to go to a friends house to keep himself clean and his clothes tidy, but he was sleeping on park benches and shop doorways - he was good at lip reading which was a good thing because although I tried to learn signing - I never mastered it.
I just couldn't understand how his Mother could allow him to be thrown out of his home and when I interviewed her about his homelessness - she said that her boyfriend didn't want her son there and it was her life that was important now - she'd brought the young man up - he had to make his own way in life now.
Now I know that there are young people out there that are utter and absolute idiots that would push the patience of a saint, and perhaps in some cases deserve to thrown out - I don't know - don't get me wrong my children weren't angels and boy did we have some arguments whilst they were growing up - but I would never have thrown any of them out in favour of another man moving into the home (I was a single parent at this time) this young man had never been in any trouble, she admitted that he was a good lad and hadn't brought her any trouble to the door, but she wouldn't have him back in the house in case her boyfriend left her - there have been times when I have sat in an interview and have had to either bit my lip or my tongue so that I didn't say the wrong thing and I had to do it when I interviewed her - I just thought you selfish self centred cow.
I left the office and moved to a different area before we found him a place of his own - I have always hoped that he was ok and that he found a home and someone to genuinely care about him before too long.
That office had a pool close by, with a road running straight through the middle and it used to be my job to run down there if we had a report of a swan or a duck being hit by a car - I've been hissed at a few times by a wounded swan - I used to have to run back to the office and call out the Ranger service, then run back down to make sure that no one else hit the poor animal and all the time the damn thing would be hissing away at me.(This was in the days before mobile phones) I used to be so glad when the Rangers turned up and I could leg it back to the office!
I could do a whole blog post on Housing Officers and animals, both the four legged variety and the creepy crawly kind!
That's enough for now - speak again later,