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When everyone has a home

028 9024 5640: Housing & Debt Helpline for Northern Ireland

Ross- a Policy & Research volunteer

Meet Ross, one of Policy and Research volunteers who we’ve had the pleasure of having on our team since January 2020. 

Tell us a bit about yourself and why you wanted to volunteer with Housing Rights  

Hi there. My name is Ross and I am a 22 year old master’s student at Queen’s studying Irish Literature with a love for dogs, books and copious amounts of dark chocolate. I know at first glance housing and Irish literature are worlds apart but one of my reasons for applying to volunteer with Housing Rights was the chance to do something totally different and a touch outside of my comfort zone. I was searching for volunteering opportunities and when I saw Housing Rights’ scheme, I thought it looked brilliant- and I was right! They clearly set out what was on offer- a two-way street where you help the organisation and the organisation in turn helps you in developing key skills and knowledge. Most importantly, Housing Rights appealed to me as an organisation embodying social justice and the imperative of striving for a fairer, more equal society.  

What did you want to get out of your volunteering experience? 

Sometimes I lack confidence, so I knew when volunteering I wanted to really tackle this and build myself up to take on more responsibility and feel more at ease with speaking up and offering my opinion. I can say Housing Rights has helped immensely with this. From the start I was made to feel part of the team, not secondary or somehow apart from the employed members of staff. More than this, I wanted to help make an impact and, even in an indirect fashion, change society for the better. Certainly, even being one small cog in the Housing Rights’ machine means you are part of something special- part of a vision where everyone has an affordable, decent home. Before starting, I knew relatively little about the current housing situation in Northern Ireland. However, through webinars and tutorials and the much-appreciated support of the team, my knowledge, and more importantly my passion, for housing has grown and grown.  When applying, I thought this would give me some good experience before entering the world of work in a completely unrelated job but now I cannot imagine a career for myself outside of housing.  

What were the highlights of volunteering with us? 

So many! From being given the opportunity to undertake research into the housing needs of the Travelling Community; to listening to the experiences of participants in our peer mentor project; to my current work on the impacts of discharging homelessness duties to the Private Rented Sector. It would be hard to pick a 2nd favourite highlight. I say this because the number 1 highlight for me has without a doubt been the many lovely, encouraging people I have met while volunteering. I am so lucky to have their support, especially in the middle of this Covid-19 lockdown, as I know I always have someone to turn to for professional or personal help. Plus, the staff here are such fountains of knowledge! It really is a privilege to work alongside them.  

What would you say to someone thinking about volunteering with Housing Rights? 

Do it! Don’t even think twice, honestly. If housing is something you do not know, or even care much about, come volunteer with Housing Rights and you will know and care lots in no time! Or if housing is something you already know and care about then what are you waiting for? Of course, I say that from the fortunate position of having free time while a student. Nonetheless, if you are on the prowl for a volunteering opportunity, I cannot recommend Housing Rights enough.

Find out more about volunteering with Housing Rights and how you can apply.