Meet Richard Mealey, the latest addition to the Oaklee Housing Team. Richard joins us from Choice Housing where, for the last number of years, he was engaged as their Tenant Engagement Manager.
Richards appointment demonstrates our commitment to our soon-to-be-released Tenant Engagement Strategy.
By having a dedicated resource, we can ensure that our tenants not only have a voice, but are represented and heard.
We sat down with Richard to find out more about him and what he hopes to achieve in his new role. So sit back, scroll down, and read all about him.
Tell us a little bit about yourself
I have lived in and around Belfast most of my life, and currently living in Lisburn just on the outskirts of Belfast. I am engaged to Claire, having been in a relationship with her for 12 years, and between us we have 7 children (3 each from previous relationships and 1 child together) and 3 grandchildren. My oldest son is 38 and my youngest daughter is 6, so that is quite an age difference, with the youngest one definitely keeping us on our toes.
Having a large family doesn’t leave much time for other interests or hobbies, however I am a bit of a history buff. I love Irish history and often visit sites of historical and cultural significance throughout Ireland whenever I get the opportunity. Some of my favourite places to visit include Derry’s walls, Carrickfergus Castle and of course Dublin with so many cultural and historical gems to see.
You mentioned that you have come from a similar role in Choice, can you tell us what your average day looked like?
I have came to work for Oaklee Housing following a 2 year stint with Choice Housing as Community Development Manager. My average working day there was so varied as I had responsibility for all the good relations initiatives, tenant engagement, and wider community development work within multiple neighbourhoods. Typically, I could have been delivering workshops on capacity building themes to our tenant representatives in the morning, and helping to deliver community events throughout Northern Ireland in the afternoon and evening. Other day’s I would have been meeting deadlines for report writing and monitoring returns, meeting with team members and senior management, attending interagency meetings with statutory bodies and political representatives. No two days were the same in Choice.
Can you tell us what you hope to bring to the role of Tenant Engagement Office?
Hopefully I can bring a lot of my previous tenant engagement experience working within the social housing sector in Northern Ireland to Oaklee Housing and our tenants. I have significant experience in delivering tenant engagement initiatives throughout Northern Ireland. These range from helping to structure and train tenant representatives, helping them become more confident and effective in their roles, to organising community building events within local neighbourhoods, helping bring communities together and improving community spirit and relationships.
I am in a great position as a social housing tenant myself to really understand the benefits and challenges facing social housing tenants and their relationships with social housing landlords and in some instances the wider community. I do know what it is like to sit in all day waiting on a workman calling to fix a leaking tap only for them not to turn up as arranged. Very frustrating.
I also have the significant insight and understanding of the demands and challenges facing social housing staff in the delivery of services. Which can be almost overwhelming at times and very stressful. So hopefully I can be an asset for the organisation and tenants alike helping to manage expectations and understanding of the needs of the tenant and the needs of the organisation.
What one skill do you think will be essential in developing the role?
The one skill that will be essential in the development of this role is around communication – this includes interpersonal skills, verbal and listening skills and diplomacy. The key to this role will be my ability to build trusting, meaningful relationships with tenants, Oaklee Housing staff and wider stakeholders. This skill base must be underpinned by consistency in my being reliable, realistic and professional in my approach.
Can you tell us what is your ambition in the role?
I hope that we can build up a thriving and sustainable model for tenant engagement, that is valued, fit for purpose and effective. However, I do recognise that this will take time and resources to structure and embed within the organisation and with our tenants.
I would like to see a significant increase in tenant representation on the Oaklee Housing tenant forum, particularly reflecting the demographic and geographic spread of our schemes across Ireland. It is important that our tenants continue to have a range of opportunities and methods to engage and interact with us. We want to ensure that the tenant voice is central to what we do, shaping how we are delivering our services and continuing to improve our services, helping to make our properties and communities great places to live.
INTERESTED IN GETTING INVOLVED?
If you're interested in working along side Richard on any aspect of tenant engagement, you can contact Richard directly by emailing him on email@example.com