Improving lives in Oldham - guest blog by Emma Davison


In the last of our blogs to mark International Women’s Day, we caught up with Emma Davison, our new Executive Director of Customer First. Here she shares her thoughts on our organisation’s role in making a positive difference to our customers’ lives.

“I'm thrilled to have been involved in International Women's Day (IWD) activities here at First Choice Homes. Friday was my first IWD here and in the social housing world; as some of you know I have spent most of the last twenty years being the champion of customers in the retail sector.

“One of the reasons I wanted to move into housing was to do more to help customers. That of course includes women and here at FCH there are some awesome initiatives underway to help improve our customers' lives.

“For example, on Friday morning some of you heard from our inspiring colleague Shumi Ikeweta at our Question Time- style panel session at Primrose Place.

“Shumi was referred to the Directions team by one of our fantastic Neighbourhood Officers. Shumi had already had a successful career as an Executive Assistant in South Africa. With the Directions team's help, she undertook training to refresh her skills and she now has an important role here with us as a Corporate Support Officer, which is fantastic to see.

“This is one specific success story about a woman in our organisation, and it’s right that we celebrate it, but it is part of a wider picture. In the last ten months alone 330 customers have been supported into employment by the Directions team. 187 young people have been given work experience opportunities to raise their aspirations and broaden their horizons; more than 600 learning hours have been completed through training sessions; and more than 50 people have secured volunteering opportunities - all thanks to our Directions team. This list is by no means exhaustive and I know other teams are doing equally excellent work to change our customers' lives for the better, but it brings to life some of the ways we can have a positive impact on people in our homes and the wider community. I'm a firm believer that help breeds help and I know some of the customers we have helped, will then in turn pay it forward and support people in their own communities, too.

“The concept of International Women's Day exists because historically and in large parts of the world women are not treated equally. I believe there are lessons to be learned from the ethos of the day and the 'each for equal' theme is a great opportunity for everyone to challenge stereotypes, broaden perceptions  and ask ourselves what can we do to promote equality. There were IWD Pledge Walls at Primrose Place and First Place on Friday and it was very positive to see the things that men and women were committing to do to create a more gender equal world.

“We can all make a difference to our customers' and colleagues' lives and I'm delighted to have joined an organisation which holds that principle very dear. After all it's #NotJustHomes.”