People of SYHA

People of SYHA celebrates the brilliant people we have here at South Yorkshire Housing Association, and shares stories about the lives, work, ambitions and values of our customers, tenants, volunteers and staff.

Natasha, keyworker at Beaufort Project.

When Natasha was 18, she completed an apprenticeship with the NHS, and has since worked in mental health community support. Natasha has worked at Beaufort Project since August 2019.

“What makes you good at your job?”

That’s a hard one to answer – ask someone else! I think the impact that I’ve come and made with the groups has shown that I’m good at my job and good at being a keyworker. I think the new ideas that I’m bringing in, and just making it better and more fun to be here. Getting everyone together, and creating opportunities for them to make friends and become more independent – I think that’s a really good thing I’ve done. People have come out their shell; sometimes they are reluctant to attend the groups, but then they come and it’s becomes a regular thing. I’m proud of that.

The groups are the best thing that I do, and it’s what I enjoy the most.

We have an art group on a Monday, on Tuesday we have meal nights, Wednesday is Women’s Club, Thursday is breakfast club, and then every Friday we do something a bit different each week, we have an out and about group, a Sunday roast group, and we have movie night, games night, and a walking group!

Nisa is our Good Work health and wellbeing specialist.


When I saw my job was advertised under a housing association, I didn’t understand the connection, but that made me excited to apply as I felt that it wasn’t just about housing but that there was so much more they were looking for in people. I also felt that they understood that it is important for people to have somewhere that is safe for them to live as a foundation going forward. I can’t imagine working anywhere else.

As soon as I walked into the office I thought this feels like home, and everyone felt like family.

I’ve trained in traditional counselling, and it is nice that I get to train organisations and line managers around mental health awareness. I think it is amazing that I am not just limited to my role, but there are other things I can do that influence how we work with people in a positive way.

Some of my training is in creative expressive therapies. At Nine One One I have been facilitating art groups themed around resettlement and finding your own identity, and also around just exploring different art materials and getting people talking. It’s great that people are coming together, and producing artwork they are really proud of. To facilitate those groups has been amazing, and so has hearing the conversations that take place and seeing those connections happening.

I really appreciate being able to use my clinical practice in the job that I do: there is room to be creative and that helps me do my job.


Kemba is a trainee project officer in our Asset strategy and Development Team, and is also part of the GEM Programme.


I did an architecture degree – I fell in love with the built environment, but I knew I didn’t want to be an architect. As a student I volunteered at South Yorkshire Housing Association and I loved it. I felt the whole ethos of the company was amazing and enjoyed the work I did. It isn’t just about providing people with a house, it is so much more than that – it really is a wellbeing organisation and it was something I wanted to be a part of.

The real thing I got from my degree was a real passion for making housing better and a bit of an understanding of how to do that, and I think that was a key part of me getting the job.

I think that I am very attuned to people’s feelings and I think in this sector that’s important: keeping an eye out for your colleagues, but also being able to put yourself in the place of our customers.

My role is to assist the whole development team and this means I do lots of different things! I am also working on our collaboration with The University Of Sheffield – I think the ideas the students are coming up with are so innovative, and it’s an amazing opportunity for them. We take what they give us really seriously, and the design work they are doing could really help inform the work that we do in the future.

Reece, Office 365 apprentice.

I wanted to do an apprenticeship because I like the application of being able to learn as well as work at the same time – it seemed really practical. I like to be hands-on with my work and I feel like you’re applying your knowledge a lot more. I researched South Yorkshire Housing Association before I applied and heard very good things – you go home, and you feel like you’ve done some good for the day! In my role as a Office 365 apprentice I’ll be maintaining the Sharepoint groups, I’ll be giving people information about how to operate the new systems, I’ll basically be the go-to person when anyone has a problem.

So far, this isn’t really what I thought an apprenticeship would be like – I’ve done far more learning than I thought I’d do. My favourite thing about my apprenticeship is what I get to learn. I’ve learnt so much so far and I haven’t done anything like this previously. It’s a whole new world for me, and I’ve dived straight in.

Casey is a customer advisor in our Customer Contact team.

I did my apprenticeship in 2017 when I was 17, and now I’m 20. My mum saw the apprenticeship advertised on the Sheffield College website.

I started in the Customer Connect team with my apprenticeship as a customer liaison apprentice. That was dealing with customer feedback, and really helped me with my confidence up a lot. When I first started, I had never really picked up the phone and spoken to anyone before – I was so nervous and shaking. Now I am doing calls as the first point of the business which is a big step, and I’ve come on quite a lot!

Then, I got a role as a customer advisor. I like being able to speak to customers and help them – if we can resolve it at the first point, then we don’t have to pass them about and get people to call back. If we can speak and help them straight away, then they have a good impression of us.

My favourite thing about working at South Yorkshire Housing Association is the people – everyone is always nice and willing to help you. It is really different to what I have done before.

I start my new role as a Facilities Co-ordinator next week, and I’m excited about the challenges it will bring – it is a brand new role! I’m really looking forward to seeing how I can make it my own.

Kalfan is our NEAT yardperson.


Last year, I was referred to Good Work. My coach, Mark, worked with me to find some construction work, but the role just wasn’t right for me. He then found me something with South Yorkshire Housing Association, and said that someone named Tom would come and meet me. I liked him, and at first I became a volunteer. I really liked all the people I worked with – I got a big, kind welcome.

I like that I make myself busy – I like cleaning and smashing things! I love to plant things as well. There is going to be a new grow tunnel, and when it’s finished I‘ll plant some seeds, so people can take fruit and vegetables home to eat. It depends what season it is as to what I’ll plant, but right now I could do tomatoes, chilli, gooseberries, and potatoes.

I wanted a physically demanding job that would help me sleep. Before, I didn’t sleep very well, but now on the days that I work I sleep a lot better.

My confidence has gone from 1 to 7 since being with my team and Good Work. Without them I wouldn’t be here now with a position in the company – they are like a family friend. I have work: I wasn’t born for nothing, I was born for something.

I would love to achieve more with South Yorkshire Housing Association. I’d like to have a van and to learn to drive it – that’s one of my ambitions for now, and something to look forward to it the future.

Vicky is our senior co-production project lead. She is part of our Co-design and Improvement and Age Better in Sheffield teams.

I work with 14 Ageing Better partners and look at good practice and learning, and the success of co-production. I’m putting together resources and events to capture what has been going on across the UK!

Co-production is quite a buzz word, it’s quite jargony – but, at the end of the day, it is about people working together to enhance their communities.

I’m so proud of what our partners – and Age Better in Sheffield! – have achieved. I feel privileged to be able to go out and hear all about it, and to be a central point to hear all those stories and to get them out there. It has been humbling and inspiring, and it will really help us to build the legacy for ageing better.

I’ve got a long-term mental health condition, and I suppose it has stopped me at various points developing in my career because I can’t be under too much pressure. I wanted to find the right role that still gives me satisfaction and where I can use my skills and abilities, but without overdoing it. That’s what South Yorkshire Housing Association has given me. We are very inclusive in the way they work, focused on what is strong not what is wrong.

Gareth, our new Housing Services director.

I started in South Yorkshire Housing Association back in 2005. I joined (what was then called) the Care and Supported Housing Directorate as a Deputy Project Manager at the Lister Project. This was my first time working for a Housing Association, and it felt really weird – I was working in health and social care, but in a Housing Association, and was trying to get my head around how the two fitted together! A lot of my friends at the time, who all worked in healthcare and social services, said what are you doing working for a Housing Association? Do you work in housing? and it was like, well yes… and no at the same time!  When I look back now, I can’t understand how anyone could think that housing would never be part of a well developed health and social care system!

Since then, I’ve worked at South Yorkshire Housing Association in various roles including a Service Manager, an Area Lead, and Head of Partnerships. And now, I’m the Director of Housing Services.

In my most recent role, as an Area Lead, I’ve done some of the things I’m most proud of – such as getting our Social Impact Bond up and running, and developing our Housing First Rotherham project. It’s strange, because it took me right back to the start of my journey in 2005 of working at the Lister Project – looking at that first model I experienced at South Yorkshire Housing Association and thinking, could we do more to enable customers to move out of our services into their forever home?  So, the things I’ve been able to do is really driving change in the system to be better for people.

I saw these systems through my operational role all those years ago, and moving into a more strategic role enabled me to make those changes I wanted to make.

The culture at South Yorkshire Housing Association is “we’re behind you on this”, and you have the complete confidence – and backing of the executive team – to do something about it. And there’s also kindness. That might sound a bit trite, but it’s in abundance around our organisation and that makes a massive difference.

Our diverse workforce adds so much to our knowledge and learning in ways we don’t even realise.  By celebrating difference in our workplace, I learn new things everyday.

Freya is our data assistant, and has worked with us for almost a year.

I started out as a lab tech in optics, but I found the work to be very lonely. So, I hopped between various things, I went back to University, and was self-employed for a little while. It was all quite exciting and different! After a few issues, I then worked with Good Work – my coach recommended I came to South Yorkshire Housing Association to do some bank work. Bank work then turned into a position!

Working here, I just feel appreciated which is something I have never felt in my working life. I get thanked for the work that I do, and I have never experienced that in 20+ years of employment. It’s great to know my best work is valued, and what I do has an impact and helps people.

My team is very small: it’s just me and Ally. We plan out things based on our abilities and knowledge. We just have a really good language between each other – we know what is best done by the other, and when we get stuck on something we will help each other through things. She has been an amazing teacher, and I have learnt so much.

In the future, I would love to find myself climbing the ladder a bit, learning more, doing more for the organisation. I just want to contribute to South Yorkshire Housing Association, and lend more of my skills and my knowledge.

Tuesday is our work and enterprise coach.


I started this role at the beginning of January. I got into the role as I had my own Good Work coach and she told me all about it and said I would be great at this job! So, when one came up I was like – I am definitely applying for it.

I just really like helping people. I’ve had plenty of issues and adversity myself, particularly from a mental health standpoint, and I’ve had to fight every step of the way. I’m a fighter – so I want to be that fighter for those people who aren’t fighters themselves, because it is hard work. When you’ve got mental or physical health problems it’s hard enough to try deal with day to day, never mind with other things as well, and that’s what has always inspired me.

I believe no-one is incapable of working – everyone deserves a chance and sometimes they just need that helping hand to get to where they are going. Everyone has got a right to get a job, get support and be a part of society if that is what they want to do.

I start seeing my customers this week so I am really excited! I spent the afternoon the other day ringing them all up and making appointments, filling my diary up – I am ready to get going!

I really like the encouragement to advance and progress, but stay within South Yorkshire Housing Association. I am new here, and I want to stay and be a part of it.

Pam has brought her talents to lots of different projects, campaigns and roles.

I have been a tenant a South Yorkshire Housing Association property since 2004. I am very proud to live in social housing, and when I was offered my bungalow in Doncaster I was so thrilled I felt like I had won the lottery.  Because of this, I was very happy to give something back –  I joined the Scrutiny Group and found that being part of this group can make a real difference for all customers.


Before I retired, I was a Manager for 25 years in a home for people who had severe learning disabilities. Trying to combat the negativity those people experienced and the way they were often treated by members of the public certainly taught me how stigma affects people through no fault of their own.  This made me very passionate about the See the Person campaign, which aims to change people’s views and negative opinions about those of us who live in Social Housing. I have been involved in the See the Person campaign from its beginning, and represented South Yorkshire Housing as a volunteer for the launch of the campaign at the Houses of Parliament. I am now also on the elected National Committee of See the Person.

In 2017, I was voted 3rd place in the TPAS North Region Tenant of the Year Competition which made me very proud, and felt it was an accolade for South Yorkshire Housing Association. I am not sure why I was chosen, but I do try to help my community in whatever way I can.

Twice a year, I organise a community event which is open to our community and their friends. In Summer, it is usually a cream tea, and in Winter, mince pies, mulled wine, hot chocolate and Christmas music. During the lockdown I have been a ‘telephone buddy’ to two ladies who are lonely because they are unable to get out. I am looking forward to the day when I can go and visit them face to face, so I have now made two new friends.

Emily is our Bid Development Manager, and has recently joined our wonderful team of volunteers.

Watch Emily talk about her experience of volunteering here.


You may have already heard about our brilliant customer Nicole, as she was recently featured in the Sheffield Star!

Nicole started volunteering with us by helping in her community shopping for essentials for other residents, she now also helps our with our telephone befriending. She says:

“To me, volunteering means unity and friendship – it’s allowing people from all walks of life to come together to create a safe and welcoming community for all. I enjoy volunteering as I want to contribute to change and make a difference.”

Jane has changed her volunteer role so that she can continue to make a difference during the lockdown.

Before the start of the pandemic I was volunteering in the Work and Wellbeing team. After only a couple of weeks, the government announced the lockdown… so, when the opportunity to volunteer as a befriender became available, I jumped at the chance.

I’ve been ringing Betty daily for about a month and a half now. Betty is 90 years old and very independent. She has two daughters and many grandchildren. Despite the generational gap we have found we have a lot in common, not just reading, we both live alone and often have a laugh about the most exciting event that’s taken place each day… for me that could be just popping to the shop and for Betty, pushing the sweeper round! We talk about all sorts of things, from Betty’s wartime memories to her garden which is in fine flower by all accounts. We both enjoy our daily conversations, and look forward to speaking to somebody as the days can be long when you live alone.

Following this crisis, I’m looking forward to taking on another volunteering role within South Yorkshire Housing Association. I’ll be working on the national campaign Together with Tenants.

Amanda works in our finance team, and wanted to do her bit outside of her time at work during the Coronavirus outbreak.

Me and Mags are building up a good relationship! I ring her once a week and we talk for about an hour.

We really enjoy our conversations about health, family, friends and reflecting on our life experiences. Mags is very interesting person, and I love to hear her stories. Mags wants me to go visit her, but I am unable to until it’s safe for us to meet up.  We are both looking forward to the day we can meet up and finally talk in person.

Sharron recently retired from being our Housing Services Director. We’re delighted she’s come back as one of our volunteers!

Watch Sharron talk about her experience of volunteering here.