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When everyone has a home

028 9024 5640: Housing & Debt Helpline for Northern Ireland

Victoria- from volunteer to Housing Advice Development Officer

Meet Victoria, who started working with us as a Policy & Research Volunteer, then became an Advice Intern and is now our full-time Housing Advice Development Officer. 

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

Hi my name’s Victoria. I started volunteering with Housing Rights when I was in my final year of university. I ended up applying to volunteer by chance, as my manager in my student job used to work here and had recommended I apply, as I was already looking for volunteering opportunities. I did some research and saw some of the amazing cases Housing Rights had worked on on the website and knew I had to apply! 

I knew I wanted to volunteer somewhere that I could actually be useful, rather than just looking for experience anywhere. I felt that the skills I had learned from my law degree, along with my previous work experience could be useful in supporting the Legal team and Policy teams.  

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

Homelessness is a failure of our society to look after the most vulnerable and I wanted to learn about how I could make an impact on people struggling with homelessness. I was keen to understand better how Housing Rights uses legal and policy expertise, combined with a genuine passion for their clients, to make a real impact on the housing sector in NI. I also believe that the more real world experience you can get while you’re in the uni ‘bubble’, the better. It’s very easy to get caught up in your own little world and forget that there are many other areas you haven’t discovered.  

What were the highlights of volunteering with us? 

My volunteering experience opened me up to a whole new area of law which I had never considered – housing. We had done some property and land law in uni but I did not realise how fascinating the law around homelessness and social housing is. Working with vulnerable people can certainly be challenging but there is nothing more motivational than the impact Housing Rights has on individual lives. 

I was fortunate to be able to shadow the Legal team during the ‘Letting Fees’ case in the County Court. This case was the first time a court in NI applied the law in relation to fees charged by Letting Agents. It was fantastic to see new case law being created and I was so impressed that Housing Rights was at the forefront of a landmark case. I was also given the opportunity to attend some housing conferences which was a fantastic opportunity to meet people in different areas of the housing sector and better understand it all. 

As a volunteer, I also completed our Housing Advice Training Programme which is an accredited Level 3 OCN course. This meant I was qualified to give housing advice to others, which eventually led to my internship and then housing advisor job with Housing Rights.  

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

Absolutely go for it! There are so many different areas you can apply for and they all require people from totally different backgrounds. Whether you have experience in legal, policy, administration or IT, Housing Rights is a fantastic place to use your spare time to help out others. I was amazed at how friendly and open the staff were and Housing Rights make a big effort to make sure that volunteers are made to feel like part of the organisation so regardless of the skills and experience you can get, you will make some great friends along the way!  

 

 

 

 

 

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