Meet the team

Housing Buddies

Shirley Watson:

I have recently retired from the post of Senior Development Officer with West of Scotland Housing Association in Glasgow. I have worked in the social housing sector since 1989 when I joined Scottish Homes, at its inception, in Dundee as PA/Office Manager. I left Scottish Homes in 1993 to move to Leeds, but returned in 1994 to take up the post of PA/Office Manager in Scottish Homes’ Lanarkshire office. While there I studied for my HNC in Housing which allowed to move into a Development Funding role. I continued to work for Scottish Homes and subsequently Communities Scotland/Scottish Government in both Development Funding and more general community regeneration (Wider Role) until 2008. In 2008, I took up the post of Senior Development Officer with West of Scotland where I remained until my retirement in December 2017.

I thoroughly enjoyed working in the social housing sector and like to keep up with developments in the sector. I got great job satisfaction from knowing that my efforts were helping improve people’s lives. My interest in housing continues which is why I was interested to see the advert for Housing Buddies and look forward to making a contribution to the organisation in the future.

Fiona Russell:

My name is Fiona Russell. My working life was always housing based; I worked in a local authority, Scottish Special Housing Association and a housing association. All my housing roles have involved some element of training and that became a passion (and a frustration!)  For some years I was on the CIH Scotland Committee with particular responsibility for training and I was involved in the development of housing education at different levels including with the housing programme at Stirling University. After my daughters were born I gradually took on more and more teaching and research until I was eventually part of the permanent staff at Stirling until I retired six years ago.

Over the years I have been involved as a board member with a number of housing associations. Each organisation has its periods of real challenge as well as times when there is plenty to celebrate. I have learned a lot from the people I have worked with and have had the opportunity to keep on learning and developing myself.

I am treasurer for our local church and at times that feels like running a small business; I always seem to be in dispute with one of the utility companies! While I have lots of hobbies I am looking forward to being involved with Housing Options partly because it is a different type of volunteering and also because it won’t involve spreadsheets!

Lindsay Roches:

I started my career in housing through the GEM programme. In my graduate year, I worked for the Wheatley Group in the Research and Development team and I achieved CIH level 4. From there I joined Inverclyde Council as Housing Policy Officer. Most recently, I joined Queens Cross Housing Association as a Performance and Service Improvement Officer and have recently achieved Charted CIH status. I am also on the board of Elderpark Housing Association, and want to be involved in shaping the housing sector in a positive way. I’m hoping to continue my journey and commitment to the sector by achieving a senior decision-making role that improves the lives of tenants.

I am looking forward to being involved Housing Options Scotland in any way I can. I am excited to be part of the housing buddies programme as it is new, innovative and aims to support clients in a unique way. I aim to be as flexible as possible with my time to appeal to a range of people and am happy to travel throughout Glasgow and the surrounding local authorities.

Kath Menzies:

I started my career in housing as a Trainee for my Local Authority. Over the past eight years I’ve worked in varying roles in Falkirk; London; the Scottish Borders; Stirling; and Glasgow.  Currently, I manage c230 properties for Link Housing Association.

Housing is the fundamental foundation of everyone’s life. If you are experiencing an unmet housing need then you’re very probably experiencing a knock on effect in other areas of your life – including your health, education or employment. It can be an overwhelming and daunting experience to seek alternative housing and unfamiliar environments – or language used by professionals – can really compound that feeling. If I can make that process easier for someone; or if I can help someone feel more at ease throughout that process – then I’ll be delighted to have the opportunity!

Anne Matthew:

I have worked in the housing sector for around 40 years, and have recently retired. I have worked with a Scottish local authority and two housing associations in Fife, Edinburgh and Stirling, carrying out new build and housing  refurbishment and regeneration projects. I am a Board member of a large housing association based in the East of Scotland.

Although retired, I am still very interested in the housing sector, and being involved with the Housing Buddies programme will allow me to meet new people and keep linked in with the world of housing. Housing Buddies is a very good idea because it aims to help people in housing need with information and advice specific to their housing situation. Although there is a lot of information available to people about different types and tenures of housing , it can be quite a confusing topic to find what is relevant to your own housing situation and circumstances.

Online Researchers:

Tessa Brown:

I’m Tessa and I live in Edinburgh. I started as a volunteer researcher developing a local area guide at the end of 2019.

I worked in housing for around 18 years before I retired a few years ago. My first housing job was with East Lothian Council where I had a variety of roles (not all at once!) including dealing with improvement and repair grants, customer complaints and feedback, and working on the local housing strategy. Later I worked for the Scottish Housing Regulator, then moved to the Scottish Government where I was in the social housing team, and latterly in a team working on climate change and home energy efficiency.

I loved working in housing and was delighted to be able to volunteer with Housing Options Scotland. They are such a friendly and open team, dedicated to making a difference to the people who come to them for advice.

Outside volunteering activity my favourite pastimes are reading, swimming and yoga, my small garden and spending time with family and friends. And I’ve started learning Spanish – progress has been slow and erratic but I mean to persevere!

Paula Cleary:

I am a recently retired educational professional with experience in qualitative research and evaluation. I’m based on the south side of Glasgow and love taking long walks locally with my husband and dog. I’m currently assisting Housing Options to research and write guides for people moving into a new local area. Having recently left work as an education consultant, I’m keen to use my skills and experience to help charities like Housing Options meet their aims and objectives. In my spare time, I love reading of all sorts, caring for my houseplants, jogging and stamp collecting – but not all at the same time!

Heather Campbell:

Hi, I’m Heather. I’m from Glenboig in North Lanarkshire. This summer I will graduate with a degree in Geography and Public Policy from the University of Glasgow. As well as having a keen interest in housing policy, I love to travel and see the world. My favourite place I’ve been to so far is probably Yosemite National Park, its grand landforms and waterfalls are insane!

Closer to home, I have a fond love for the Isle of Skye, having spent every Easter there as a kid, holidaying with family, building fires on Talisker Bay and bagging Munros in the Cuillin hills, has made me love the island (even enough to write 10,000 words on Airbnb and how its impacted the island for my dissertation).

I must say I am also a self-confessed eco-warrior with a passion to cut the amount of plastic and fossil fuels we use, as a society and do our bit to make our Earth a happier, healthier place to be.

I have worked as a lifeguard for the past 5 years which has supported me through uni and all my travels. However, as a soon-to-be new graduate I am looking to gain experience working in the third sector, particularly in the housing sector, so I hope this volunteering opportunity will be a great steppingstone for things to come.

Jessica Sweeney:

My name is Jessica and I’m originally from West Yorkshire but my family moved up to Inverness around 20 years ago. I also lived in Stirling for 4 years whilst at university and I’m now back in Inverness where I met and married my husband.

I respond to visitor feedback for a living – the compliments are lovely but, unfortunately, they are few and far between!

In my spare time, I love to travel and I like to buy books and read.  I also like to volunteer!  I’ve been a Girl Guide leader for 12 years and I’m also currently a District Commissioner.  I’m also about to start training to become an advocate for Sepsis Research UK.  I was looking for an opportunity to volunteer online and came across Housing Options Scotland.  I read about what they were offering and decided I definitely wanted to be involved and now I’m helping with the “Your Area Guides”!