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 interview, we meet Fiona Russell.
- Tell us a bit about yourself – what’s your experience in the housing sector?
I started off as a trainee in a local authority housing department then moved to Scottish Special Housing Association and subsequently worked for what is now Trust Housing Association. I had always been involved in training and education and after my first child was born I became increasingly involved with the housing programme at Stirling University. Eventually I became a permanent member of staff and stayed there until I retired in 2013. I have been involved with a number of housing associations over the years as a voluntary board member; that has always been challenging and fulfilling.
- Why did you want to get involved with Housing Buddies?
I had reached a point where my housing association involvement was coming to an end. I didn’t want to relinquish that part of my life altogether but I wasn’t really up for getting to know a new organisation, its people and issues all over again. The request for Housing Buddies came at the right time and felt like something I could usefully contribute to without spending hours pouring over board papers and wondering about what might be about to overwhelm an organisation.
- What are you looking forward to most about being a Housing Buddy?
Being useful and being able to use my housing knowledge. Continuing to develop my understanding of the housing sector.
- Why do you think Housing Buddies is an important programme?
It makes complete sense for a small organisation to maximise staff time by using volunteers to undertake some tasks. Avoiding lone working by having a buddy alongside allows staff more flexibility when meeting people who struggle with getting to public places.
- Why is volunteering important to you?
I am very involved with my local church as Treasurer and looking after the maintenance of the buildings. It is great to have other involvements, building on other areas of skill and knowledge as this brings perspective, other challenges and a sharing of ideas.