I had the opportunity to catch up with Margrethe Cameron, the newly appointed Procurement & Development Manager in February of this year.
She is a warm, fun person with a great laugh and a forthright personality.
She explained to me what prompted her to want to work for HOPE worldwide UK.
“I come from a marketing background and wanted to do something worthwhile. I saw the job advert with HOPE and thought it was too good to be true. Fortunately, they were looking for someone with a marketing background.”
“I was encouraged and overwhelmed at the challenge. My initial role was to find new landlords, but I have been more drawn into the work in the Two Step office, working alongside Laverne & Gavin interviewing & assessing people, and helping them to complete benefit forms & finding property.”
“The job is very encouraging, we try to house people within 24 hours. I work more with people under 35, who are placed into shared accommodation. I have prepared a pack for clients under 35, so that they know what they need to look for. And we make an agreement that we will look for them, but that they will also look.”
How old are the clients you work with?
“The youngest person I have seen is in their 20’s but most will be between 25 and 35. It is difficult to find accommodation for people under 35 as landlords can get more money for a studio, sometimes 3 times the amount of a normal room. But under 35’s are only entitled to shared accommodation on housing benefit.”
“Landlords can get around £200 per week for a studio, up to £250 in Central London. The rental market has gone berserk in London. The housing market in London is incredibly buoyant. Most landlords will rent out to working people with a high salary. “
“There are landlords out there with a social conscience who want to do good. They are few and far between, and some have a Christian focus wanting to help people get on in life.”
“If I had more time to devote to finding more landlords, then I would find more. It is very easy to get caught up in the office, greeting clients, making them a cup of tea.”
“We are in desperate need of volunteers!”
What vision do you have for your role?
“Find more landlords, and maintaining a good relationship with them. Letting them know we will provide a good service for them. I would like people to also know more about the Rent A Room Scheme – the person living with you is a lodger, there are not the same restrictions as a landlord, and you are tax exempt for the first £4,250.”
“I would also like to develop and find solutions for the under 35’s. That is the need and that is where I would like to spend my time. If there were more volunteers, I would be less involved with assessments, working alongside a volunteer possibly coming in one day a week. Our landlords have different needs. There are some things they really do not like, such as arrears, or having tenants who have been in prison. It is good to know the clients, but the person volunteering can do that and I can maintain the relationship with the landlord.”
“There are a mixture of needs within the Two Step office for people good at data entry, meeting and greeting people, and the occasional washing of dishes to free up myself, Gavin and Laverne.”
What could HOPE do better with?
“There is a very hard working, professional ethos at the Twp Step office. There is no sitting around, dill dallying – looking at web sites. We are often running around, literally! As we want things to get done. So I am really, really encouraged about that.”
“I think we could better at creating connections with our supporters, especially the International Churches of Christ, but also recruiting a mixture of volunteers from different backgrounds.”
“I believe personal relationships are so important.”
“We need a Volunteer Co-ordinator. I think it would be a fantastic role.”
“I also think we need to think about what we are doing right now, working mostly with housing single people on benefits. Then in future think about what we would like to do, where would should be putting our focus.”
What do you think you can bring to the role from a marketing background?
“I have carried out some market research, and trying to understand the market is helpful. Looking from a landlords point of view provision of service to the landlords. Finding new landlords is also a marketing exercise. Also creating a relationship with the landlord as their main point of contact, to understand their full portfolio”
“Intuitively, HOPE have done a great job with their landlords from a marketing point of view, and it will be good to hold onto that in the future.”
Margrethe, is a fantastic addition to the staff team at Two Step. We wish her well in her role and look forward to seeing the Two Step programme grow from strength to strength, with the hard work and vision of the team and your support.
If you would like to find out more about volunteering opportunities with HOPE Worldwide UK. Please feel free to complete the contact form on the link below and we will be in touch.