Meet our apprentices

This week (6th to 10th March) is National Apprenticeships Week, so we’re celebrating our amazing apprentices and their achievements at SYHA.

Apprenticeships are a great way to gain valuable work place experience whilst working towards a qualification. University or college isn’t for everyone, and the best bit about an apprenticeship is that you’re earning as your learn!

We’ve currently got six apprentices working in areas across our business from IT and Customer Services, to our Home Maintenance Team and Property Services. Apprentices are an important part of our organisation. They bring new ideas, fresh ways of working and enthusiasm to our business.

To make their time with us as rewarding as it can be, they aren’t just making tea, they’re doing real work and gaining practical skills and experience.

Our apprentice programme has been a real success so far, with eight former apprentices now working at SYHA in new roles since finishing their apprenticeship.

We asked our apprentices how working with us has helped develop their career.


Jenni Anderson, Customer Connection Apprentice

Jenni started her apprenticeship with us back in August 2016. She found out about the role via a text we sent to all our tenants advertising the new role.

She was initially planning to get back to college but her mum suggested our Customer Connection Apprentice role for her and she applied – and we’re glad she did!

Jenni has been working with our Customer Service and Customer Engagement teams, and has done lots of work with our Customer Improvement Panel. We asked her how she has found the first six months of her apprenticeship:

“Aside from it really helping build my confidence, I’ve learnt a lot about working in an office environment, social housing and the issues currently facing lower income families in the UK. More practically speaking, I’ve had the opportunity to take an active role in helping plan events for tenants, filming and documenting these events, and getting to know and help tenants on an every day basis. It’s a really varied role, with no two days the same.

“One of my favourite parts so far would have to be helping with the Christmas Carol Concert held by some of the children in one of our neighbourhoods, where they performed for some of our resident groups. The people and the atmosphere are so lovely, and it’s wonderful being secure in the knowledge that we’re contributing to help people better their lives.”


Kane Kehoe, ICT Service Apprentice

Kane started his apprenticeship on 10th October 2016. He has lived in Sheffield his whole life and was studying video game development at Peaks College for a year before deciding it wasn’t for him. He then went from job to job, but none of them were really things he wanted to pursue a long term career in.

He had always been interested in IT and was looking for an apprenticeship to build his skills, gain some experience and get his foot in the door with a company. Sheffield City College forwarded his CV onto us and here he is!

We asked Kane how he is finding life at SYHA so far:

“I’ve only been here around five to six months but I’ve learned so much in my time here. Working in IT there’s a lot to learn every day, not only the technical side of my job but even just dealing with different types of people with different problems. My customer service skills have definitely improved since working here, from interacting with so many different people every day, over the phone and in person.

“If you’re thinking about an apprenticeship definitely go for it, you’ll not regret it. SYHA is a great place to work, the people are friendly, there’s always something that needs to be done, and new things to learn and experience. It’s a place where you can take pride in what you’re doing, no matter what it is.”

“The people I work with in Computer Services on a daily basis are all great people and always willing to lend a helping hand if I’m struggling with something, but also everyone else working here at SYHA, they’re all friendly welcoming people who make working here as enjoyable as it is.

SYHA is by far the best place I’ve worked so far, no day is the same and I’m learning so much all the time, it’s a great place to develop your skills and get some experience in whatever it is you’re interested in.”


Dan Morton, Systems Development Assistant

Dan started his apprenticeship with us back in August 2012 as a Database Systems Apprentice. He found out about the opportunity on the Government’s apprenticeship website, applied and five years later he is still with us!Dan Morton

He started working on database administration, learning new skills and applying the theory learnt whilst studying for a Level 3 Course in IT Uses for Business. After spending a year with us as an apprentice Dan was in the perfect position to apply for a new role that came up in our Computer Services team and got the job thanks to the experience he had built up over the previous year.

Dan’s development didn’t stop there, as part of his new roll he enrolled with University Centre Doncaster to complete a HNC in ‘Computing and Systems Development’. He would attend the course one day a week alongside his current role passing with flying colours once the two year course ended. Dan has already identified his next training goal. He aims to be certified as an Microsoft Certified Solutions Associate in the near future.

We asked Dan what advice he would give to someone thinking about starting an apprenticeship with us:

“Go for it! You’ll be working in a friendly and challenging atmosphere with a pay rate that is very competitive with other apprentice roles. There are always development opportunities to go for and you will be constantly learning new things from people from a variety of backgrounds. I have found having the mix of studying and practical experience to work great for me as it has enabled me to put in to practice the work I have completed at college and university.”

We’re really proud of Dan, and he deservedly received the Sheffield ‘Apprentice of the Year’ award after completing his initial one year apprenticeship.

 


Mollie Slingsby, Customer Liaison Apprentice

Mollie started her apprenticeship in our Customer Services team back in August 2016 after leaving school. She was looking for an apprenticeship but didn’t want to do a conventional college course or A-Levels, and was pointed in the direction of the SYHA apprenticeships through college. Mollie Slingsby

In her role Mollie deals with customers on a daily basis, answering enquiries, dealing with complaints and acting as the first point of contact for the organisation which is a huge responsibility.

We asked Mollie how she found the first six months of her apprenticeship:

“With no past experience working, my role has given me a better, more accurate insight into the work place and helped me to build confidence, which I didn’t have before starting work.

“I would recommend to anybody doing an apprenticeship with SYHA as it is such a nice environment to work in. The people you work with are always so willing to help and provide support as well as making you feel like a valued employee.”

Career Ready – Tafadzwa’s story

We often hear from people applying for roles at SYHA that work experience is hard to come by. That’s why we’re excited to be able support projects like the Career Ready programme at Longley Park Sixth Form College in Sheffield.

Pete and Tafadzwa on their final day together

Pete and Tafadzwa on their final day together

Career Ready supports students who are applying for university or looking to gain practical work experience. Every year we invite a student to come and spend some time with us, and last year we were delighted to welcome 17-year-old Tafadzwa to work with us for four weeks.

We teamed Tafadzwa (or T for short) up with our Neighbourhoods Team Leader, Pete Jepson, who acted as T’s mentor throughout his time with us and shared his vast experience of working in housing.

T was in the process of applying for an architecture course and wanted to learn more about the processes linked to designing buildings. Pete arranged for T to spend time working with our Development Team to find out more about how we build new homes and the role architects play in the process.

To make sure T could document his time with us, Pete also arranged for him to spend time with our Marketing Team who helped T with his personal statement application for university.

He shared some amazing stories with us about his upbringing in Zimbabwe and how at the age of six, he built his first building – a coop to protect his chickens. Since then he has been fascinated with building design. What a fabulous reason to get into architecture!

To round off his time with us, T got stuck in at a garden clearance with our NEAT team, helped organise a basketball tournament for local children with our friends at the Sheffield Sharks, and even came along to our kick start meeting for our WikiHouse pilot.

Since spending time with us, T has also held a short art exhibition at the Bank Street Art Gallery in Sheffield showcasing some of his work.

T getting stuck in with our NEAT team

T getting stuck in with our NEAT team

We asked Tafadzwa about his time with us, he said:

“I’d like to say thank you to Pete, he has been a great mentor and he really took me under his wing. I know so much more about the processes in architecture, but also about a work place environment. 

“What I’ll take away from my experience is that when designing a building, it’s not just a design, you have to think about who is going to live there and what they want.

“I’d recommend the Career Ready programme with South Yorkshire Housing Association to anyone. I didn’t just sit and watch what was going on, I was given lots of opportunities to get involved in exciting new projects.”

T sent in his application to Leeds, Sheffield, Hertfordshire and Nottingham Universities and we’ve got our fingers crossed that he gets in!

Pete said: “I’d like to wish T all the best with his career, he was a great person to work with and hope to see him come back to SYHA as a qualified architect in the future.” 

“The programme is something I love being involved in, and I’m already looking forward to working with a new student this year.”

South Yorkshire Housing Association make Best 100 Companies list

For the second year running, South Yorkshire Housing Association (SYHA) has been named as one of the Sunday Times Best 100 Companies (Not-For-Profit) To Work For.

The housing association, which has 6,000 properties across South Yorkshire and employs over 550 people, placed in 40th place on the list, up 22 places from 62nd last year. SYHA also placed in 20th in a separate Best 25 Housing Associations list, up five places from last year.Best 100 Companies

On top of the listing, the organisation has also maintained our Best 100 Companies 1-star accreditation status which represents outstanding levels of employee engagement.

This is the fourth time SYHA has featured on this list since 2013, with their overall score increasing every year.

The list is compiled based on detailed feedback from staff at every organisation surveyed. The ‘B heard’ survey asks staff for an honest assessment on a range of topics, from what they think about leadership, managers and their team, to rating their wellbeing, personal growth opportunities and how engaged they feel.

South Yorkshire Housing Association was recognised for enabling staff to shape their own training, as well as the various opportunities to develop as an individual.

Tony Stacey, Chief Executive at South Yorkshire Housing Association, said: “I am delighted that we continue to do so well on staff engagement. We all know that a happy workforce, who believe in where the organisation is going, is essential to provide the best possible services for customers and to grow our business.

“The announcement also comes hot on the heels of our Investors in People Gold award which strengthens our belief that our people see SYHA as a friendly place, driven by strong values and are empowered to do the best work of their lives.”

“The award is a fitting testament to the amazing work being done by staff across the organisation on a daily basis. I’d like to thank each and every one of them for making us one of the best places to work in the country.”

If you’re interesting in working with us at SYHA, why not take a look at our current vacancies by clicking here.

People living in Barnsley need a 26% pay rise to afford to buy a home

The average full-time worker in Barnsley now needs a staggering pay rise of 26% just to afford a mortgage on a typical home in the region, a new report from the National Housing Federation reveals today.

According to the ‘Yorkshire and the Humber Home Truths 2016/17’ report, those earning any less than £29,809 a year are now priced out of buying the average home in the area.

Despite regional house prices being lower than the national average, the combination of low wages, an above-average unemployment rate and job insecurity is resulting in an acute housing crisis in the area.

Local salaries have failed to keep up with house prices, meaning the average home in Barnsley – costing £130,413 – is now over five and a half times the average yearly income of £23,670.

The report also exposes the severe shortfall of new homes in recent years. Between 2011 and 2015, there were over 37,000 too few homes built across Yorkshire and the Humber to keep up with demand, while cities like Sheffield were nearly 7,000 homes short.

The housing association sector is working to end the region’s crisis, completing nearly 1,800 new homes and starting work on over 1,600 more during 2015/16.

Tony Stacey, Chief Executive of South Yorkshire Housing Association, said: “The message is simple – we need to build more homes in our region. Homes that are genuinely affordable and offer different types of tenure, whether that is to buy, rent or shared ownership.

“We’re a relatively small organisation, but we’re doing our bit to help. We’ve got plans to build 1,180 new homes in our region over the next five years, but with the planned Government cuts to the Local Housing Allowance, this will undermine our entire development plan at a time when housing associations are perfectly placed to ramp up supply.

Jo Allen, the National Housing Federation’s External Affairs Manager for Yorkshire and the Humber, said: “It is clear that Yorkshire and the Humber is suffering from an acute housing crisis and these truly distressing stats simply reaffirm that fact – we simply must get building more genuinely affordable homes.”

To read the Yorkshire and the Humber Home Truths 2016/17 report in full visit www.housing.org.uk/hometruths.

People living in Doncaster need a 40% pay rise to afford to buy a home

The average full-time worker in Sheffield now needs a staggering pay rise of 40% just to afford a mortgage on a typical home in the region, a new report from the National Housing Federation reveals today.

According to the ‘Yorkshire and the Humber Home Truths 2016/17’ report, those earning any less than £32,500 a year are now priced out of buying the average home in the area.

Despite regional house prices being lower than the national average, the combination of low wages, an above-average unemployment rate and job insecurity is resulting in an acute housing crisis in the area.

Local salaries have failed to keep up with house prices, meaning the average home in Doncaster – costing £142,189 – is now over six times the average yearly income of £23,161.

The report also exposes the severe shortfall of new homes in recent years. Between 2011 and 2015, there were over 37,000 too few homes built across Yorkshire and the Humber to keep up with demand, while cities like Sheffield were nearly 7,000 homes short.

The housing association sector is working to end the region’s crisis, completing nearly 1,800 new homes and starting work on over 1,600 more during 2015/16.

Tony Stacey, Chief Executive of South Yorkshire Housing Association, said: “The message is simple – we need to build more homes in our region. Homes that are genuinely affordable and offer different types of tenure, whether that is to buy, rent or shared ownership.

“We’re a relatively small organisation, but we’re doing our bit to help. We’ve got plans to build 1,180 new homes in our region over the next five years, but with the planned Government cuts to the Local Housing Allowance, this will undermine our entire development plan at a time when housing associations are perfectly placed to ramp up supply.

Jo Allen, the National Housing Federation’s External Affairs Manager for Yorkshire and the Humber, said: “It is clear that Yorkshire and the Humber is suffering from an acute housing crisis and these truly distressing stats simply reaffirm that fact – we simply must get building more genuinely affordable homes.”

To read the Yorkshire and the Humber Home Truths 2016/17 report in full visit www.housing.org.uk/hometruths.

People living in Rotherham need a 45% pay rise to afford to buy a home

The average full-time worker in Rotherham now needs a staggering pay rise of 45% just to afford a mortgage on a typical home in the region, a new report from the National Housing Federation reveals today.

According to the ‘Yorkshire and the Humber Home Truths 2016/17’ report, those earning any less than £33,535 a year are now priced out of buying the average home in the area.

Despite regional house prices being lower than the national average, the combination of low wages, an above-average unemployment rate and job insecurity is resulting in an acute housing crisis in the area.

Local salaries have failed to keep up with house prices, meaning the average home in Sheffield – costing £146,715 – is now over six times the average yearly income of £23,187.

The report also exposes the severe shortfall of new homes in recent years. Between 2011 and 2015, there were over 37,000 too few homes built across Yorkshire and the Humber to keep up with demand, while cities like Sheffield were nearly 7,000 homes short.

The housing association sector is working to end the region’s crisis, completing nearly 1,800 new homes and starting work on over 1,600 more during 2015/16.

Tony Stacey, Chief Executive of South Yorkshire Housing Association, said: “The message is simple – we need to build more homes in our region. Homes that are genuinely affordable and offer different types of tenure, whether that is to buy, rent or shared ownership.

“We’re a relatively small organisation, but we’re doing our bit to help. We’ve got plans to build 1,180 new homes in our region over the next five years, but with the planned Government cuts to the Local Housing Allowance, this will undermine our entire development plan at a time when housing associations are perfectly placed to ramp up supply.

Jo Allen, the National Housing Federation’s External Affairs Manager for Yorkshire and the Humber, said: “It is clear that Yorkshire and the Humber is suffering from an acute housing crisis and these truly distressing stats simply reaffirm that fact – we simply must get building more genuinely affordable homes.”

To read the Yorkshire and the Humber Home Truths 2016/17 report in full visit www.housing.org.uk/hometruths.

People living in Sheffield need a 64% pay rise to afford to buy a home

The average full-time worker in Sheffield now needs a staggering pay rise of 64% just to afford a mortgage on a typical home in the region, a new report from the National Housing Federation reveals today.

According to the ‘Yorkshire and the Humber Home Truths 2016/17’ report, those earning any less than £39,139 a year are now priced out of buying the average home in the area.

Despite regional house prices being lower than the national average, the combination of low wages, an above-average unemployment rate and job insecurity is resulting in an acute housing crisis in the area.

Local salaries have failed to keep up with house prices, meaning the average home in Sheffield – costing £171,233 – is now over seven times the average yearly income of £23,904.

The report also exposes the severe shortfall of new homes in recent years. Between 2011 and 2015, there were over 37,000 too few homes built across Yorkshire and the Humber to keep up with demand, while cities like Sheffield were nearly 7,000 homes short.

The housing association sector is working to end the region’s crisis, completing nearly 1,800 new homes and starting work on over 1,600 more during 2015/16.

Tony Stacey, Chief Executive of South Yorkshire Housing Association, said: “The message is simple – we need to build more homes in our region. Homes that are genuinely affordable and offer different types of tenure, whether that is to buy, rent or shared ownership.

“We’re a relatively small organisation, but we’re doing our bit to help. We’ve got plans to build 1,180 new homes in our region over the next five years, but with the planned Government cuts to the Local Housing Allowance, this will undermine our entire development plan at a time when housing associations are perfectly placed to ramp up supply.

Jo Allen, the National Housing Federation’s External Affairs Manager for Yorkshire and the Humber, said: “It is clear that Yorkshire and the Humber is suffering from an acute housing crisis and these truly distressing stats simply reaffirm that fact – we simply must get building more genuinely affordable homes.”

To read the Yorkshire and the Humber Home Truths 2016/17 report in full visit www.housing.org.uk/hometruths.

My Best Life in Barnsley

We’ve been awarded £821,000 by NHS Barnsley Clinical Commissioning Group to provide social prescribing in Barnsley over the next three years.

It is estimated around a fifth of visits to a GP are linked to problems in people’s lives such as loneliness, debt, housing issues, work, relationships and unemployment.

The new scheme will help support people who go to see their GP often with social, emotional or practical needs, where a prescription for medication often doesn’t help.

The scheme, called My Best Life, will start from April 2017 and will be similar to our Doncaster Social Prescribing scheme which continues to go from strength-to-strength.

GPs will be able to put people who have non-medical need in touch with someone from My Best Life team who will talk to them and find out what help or support they need; from money worries and relationship difficulties, to counselling and social groups to tackle loneliness and isolation.

The type of support will vary widely depending on the individual’s needs – from putting people in touch with the local fishing club to getting advice on managing debt.

The two major benefits for people referred to the My Best Life service will be an improvement in their health, wellbeing and quality of life and a reduction in social isolation, exclusion and loneliness. With a special focus on improving mental health and wellbeing, the scheme hopes to enable people to manage their own health, improve social networks and develop their self-confidence.

Dr Nick Balac, local GP and chair of NHS Barnsley Clinical Commissioning Group said: “Good health and wellbeing is about much more than doctors and medicines. Helping people overcome loneliness and debt for example can have a huge impact on your physical and mental health.

“This scheme will create a different type of conversation when you see your GP or nurse that allows both medical and social elements to be taken into account. If you’re just treating medical issue then you’re often not getting to the root of the problem.”

“The main benefits of this type of service are that it creates a connection between family doctors and nurses and the rest of the wellbeing community services and groups across the town. It adds to the range of support and advice we can offer as a GP.

“We know from other areas that this type of support has the potential to reduce admissions to hospital and reduce the number of GP visits people need to make, but most importantly, to improve the health and wellbeing of the participants.

“There are some really good examples of this type of service on a smaller scale in Barnsley, and I’m really pleased to see that it will now be available in all GP practices and across the borough.”

Phil Parkes, Area Lead at South Yorkshire Housing Association, said: “We’re really looking forward to working with the CCG and other organisations across the area to bring a service like this to Barnsley.

“We know from running our service in Doncaster that this sort of support makes a huge difference. Over 80% of the people we worked with in Doncaster felt more able to manage their health, and felt less isolated and lonely.

“We also saw a 68% drop in repeat visits to GP’s, so we’re confident that we can make a similar impact in Barnsley.”

When the scheme is up and running in April, My Best Life will also be looking for volunteers to help increase the variety and quality of support available to people in Barnsley. You could get involved providing follow on support, sharing your experiences with others or even by setting up groups for carers or people with specific conditions.

Live streaming of Cathy this Wednesday

Our friends at Cardboard Citizens are screening an interactive live streaming of their critically acclaimed national tour Cathy on Wednesday 18th January, starting at 7.45pm – where the online audience can get involved and change the outcome on stage – all from the comfort of your own home.

The performance is being broadcast live from CAST in Doncaster. Online viewers will be able to share their thoughts via Twitter using the hashtag #CathyLive and through the online forum that will appear next to the video.

They’ll be asking audiences across the UK (and the world!) for their suggestions for their own ‘Cathy Laws’ – which are changes to legislation they think would improve things for the Cathy’s of our time. This isn’t the same as seeing the show for real, where audiences can really intervene and change the action. But it will be a unique event allowing many people to exchange – and change – views at the same time.

Tune in to Cathy live

To watch simply click on the Youtube link below to be taken to the live steam.

Our holiday opening hours

With Christmas and New Year falling on a weekend this year, we will be closed for a few extra days over the festive period. So if you need to get in touch with us over the festive period here are our office opening hours:

  • Friday 23rd December – open 9am to 5pm
  • Christmas Eve – Saturday 24th December – closed
  • Christmas Day – Sunday 25th December – closed
  • Boxing Day – Monday 26th December – closed
  • Bank Holiday – Tuesday 27th December – closed
  • Wednesday 28th – open at 9am (8am for our repairs line)
  • Thursday 29th – open 9am to 5pm
  • Friday 30th December – open 9am to 5pm
  • New Year’s Eve – Saturday 31st December – closed
  • New Year’s Day – Sunday 1st January – closed
  • Bank Holiday – Monday 2nd January – closed
  • Tuesday 3rd January – open at 9am (8am for our repairs line)

If you have an emergency repair to report when our office is closed, you can call our emergency repairs line on 0114 2900 200 or freephone 0800 1380 380.

For non-emergencies you can also get in touch via email by emailing enquiries@syha.co.uk or for repairs email repairs@syha.co.uk and we will get back to you by the end of the next working day.