This week we’re shining a light on Service Manager, Dean.
Dean has been part of the Concrete army for seven months but has worked in various roles across our parent organisation, Honeycomb Group, for four years. He started his career as a Customer Service Advisor before moving on to a housing role at Staffs Housing.
Earlier this year, Dean joined Concrete as our Tenancy Sustainment Team Leader. He launched and led a brand new team, guiding them to provide the best tenancy support for customers across Staffordshire.
After months of hard work and growth, Dean took another leap and progressed to Interim Service Manager for our Community Housing teams.
We sat down with Dean to ask him all about his career and his advice for anyone wanting to get into the homelessness sector.
Dean said: “When I was younger, I never even thought about working in the homelessness sector. At school I actually wanted to be a Spanish teacher!
“I got my first job when I was about 16 as a Saturday boy at my step-mum’s hair salon. I worked there for about three years and trained up as a hairdresser.
“From there I held lots of other different roles including a travel agents Assistant Manager and a family holiday rep in Menorca.”
After a bereavement four years ago, Dean said that he started to really think about what was important in his life. He knew he wanted a change in direction but wasn’t sure what that would be.
“Losing a close family member put everything in perspective for me. I started thinking about what I wanted to do and I knew I had to have some kind of change.
“I had a friend who already worked at Honeycomb Group and they suggested I apply for a customer service role.”
Dean applied for the job and was successful. He loved the role and soon progressed to a Housing Assistant at Staffs Housing.
“At the start of the year I was working on a voids project with some of the Concrete staff. I heard about a new team that was going to be formed – Tenancy Sustainment. It was all really exciting and the Concrete team really supported me to go for it and apply to be the Team Leader.
“However when the job came up, my family experienced another bereavement and I was going through a really difficult time. I wasn’t really thinking about work – my focus was on family and being with them.
“I started to think that it was really funny timing. When I experienced my first bereavement a few years ago, I decided to change my direction and enter a new sector. Now I’d just lost someone else and this opportunity was staring right at me. I just thought, I need to apply, so I went for it.”
Dean was successful and officially launched the new Tenancy Sustainment Team in May.
“I loved having a team. I used to manage my own team in previous roles and I really missed doing that.
“My focus from the start was completely on what is best for the customer. It’s not all about hitting targets and ticking boxes – we want customers to be supported as best as we can. That’s how we really measure success.”
After a few months, an opportunity came up for Dean’s current role, Interim Service Manager.
“Applying for this role was a huge decision. I wondered if it was right for me, or if I could even do it, but I decided to take a leap of faith and just go for it.
“This role has helped me to be much more strategic – I’m using skills that I haven’t used for a while and really enjoying it.
“The best part of my job is making sure that our customers are housed, especially when they’re coming to us from the streets. It’s about making sure they have somewhere safe and secure to call home. Housing is a right, not a privilege.
“It’s incredible to be part of that bigger picture by doing my own little bit.”
Dean would encourage anyone to break into the homelessness sector. We asked what his advice would be for someone just starting their career.
“Believe in yourself. Trust in what you do. Ask as many questions as you possibly can.
“Don’t hide away and don’t be scared of telling people what you want and what you can do.”
Alongside his career, Dean has also been studying with the Open University. He’s in his third year and currently focusing on leadership.
“I try and match my modules to what I’m working on at the time. So far I’ve covered business management, social science and this year I’m doing leadership.
“Everything I learn is so valuable to my role and I can implement it all into my work.”