We spoke to our new Housing Buddies at the beginning of the programme, finding out more about their background and hopes for their involvement with the project. In this first interview, we meet Shirley Watson.
- Tell us a bit about yourself – what’s your experience in the housing sector?
I am 66 years old, retired, and living in Forfar, Angus with my partner and cat. My experience in the housing sector comes from approximately 18 years working with Scottish Homes/Communities Scotland/Scottish Government in both Admin and Investment Officer/Community Regeneration funding roles, mainly in the Glasgow area. The last 9-10 years of my working life were spent with West of Scotland Housing Association as a Senior Development Officer where I oversaw new build projects in Glasgow and South Ayrshire mainly.
- Why did you want to get involved with Housing Buddies?
Being retired, I am keen to keep active mentally and physically. I already volunteer with 2 charities and when I saw the ad for Housing Buddies, I felt it was something I could contribute to. I have the time, and I am still extremely interested in the housing sector.
- What are you looking forward to most about being a Housing Buddy?
Meeting new people and being able to help people as and when they need it, to the best of my ability.
- Why do you think Housing Buddies is an important programme?
I think the Housing Buddies programme is an excellent idea as it is targeting people in housing need to help them get the most appropriate housing for them. It will also free up Housing Options Scotland staff to concentrate on helping more people if Housing Buddies can take on some of the more mundane tasks!
- Why is volunteering important to you?
As I have said, I already volunteer with 2 charities in a fundraising role. I have volunteered with one of these charities for 25 years now and mean to continue. Volunteering is important to me because (1) it gives me the opportunity to meet new people; (2) it builds confidence and self-esteem; (3) it means I can help those in need in the best way I can; and (4) it gives me a role in society now that I am no longer working.