De Montfort University (DMU) is dedicated to preparing students and graduates for a wide range of careers beyond university. This month we spoke to alumnus Bicram Athwal about his work supporting vulnerable people in the social housing sector.
Bicram began studying International Relations and Politics at DMU in 2009, initially attracted by its good reputation in the local area and the opportunity to fit studying around working full time. He said: "I have always been interested in politics and international relations, but after I went to an open day at DMU, I knew it was going to be the right place for me. The professors were so engaging and enthusiastic about their subject and really showcased the course content, which focused in a lot of topics that are relevant in the current global climate. I enjoyed a great relationship with the course, students, and staff and I'm still keen to get involved with the faculty when I'm able to.
"I worked at the Next offices in Enderby throughout my studies and continued to do so after graduating, moving upwards through a range of roles. I gained some fantastic experience during my time there, but when the opportunity to work as a Digital Engagement Officer in the social housing sector arose, I felt like it was a chance to give back to the community.
"I knew a bit about the sector as I grew up in social housing, but I had no idea about just how big it was. I was fortunate to join a company called PA Housing, a not for profit housing provider. I wanted to learn as much as possible and so I joined the Future Leaders programme and technical advisory board for the Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH). I had the chance to write blogs for CIH and National Housing Federation and to present at housing conferences, which put into practice a lot of the practical skills I'd learned during my assessments at DMU.
"COVID-19 has had a huge impact on the provision of social housing, as many of our residents are elderly or have English as a second language, which can make them especially isolated at a time like this. I've been working numerous night shifts ontop of my regular work in order to make sure that our residents have someone to contact and we can reassure their families who want clarification about guidelines and keeping safe.
PA Housing: Vestry House, Leicester.
“If you are passionate about joining a sector that will make a real difference to the lives of people in this country, this is the sector for you! In every city and rural areas there will be thousands of people who are reliant on the services Social Housing provides.
"It is more than just providing a home, it's about supporting communities who are often neglected, seeing once vulnerable families thrive and providing a safety net to those who have fallen on hard times.
"The work you do, no matter what specialism, from law, to finance and business development, plays an important part in making a real difference."
Posted on Thursday 28th May 2020