Staff in the Spotlight: An interview with Housing Officer, Majella Asple
August 25, 2022
In school I had dyslexia, which held me back hugely. I moved to Germany at 19 and started working as a nurse’s aide. I got the opportunity under a European-funded scheme to go to college to do nursing. So, I excelled, I did well in subjects that interested me like sociology, psychology whereas in Ireland, I didn’t do as well. So, I define myself in two parts: the German Majella and the Irish Majella. Later on, I had my family, went back to college and retrained in applied social studies. I used all those core subjects to help me raise my children when they were small but there are fundamentals instilled in me from the time I went to Germany that helped me to create boundaries and work well with people. I am efficient, fair and ethical in the workplace.
I had been working in homelessness immediately before coming to CHI, but in general my background would be in community, community support, family support, teenagers. I spent years in Focus Ireland working in Wexford County Council on their housing team and the homeless action team. The housing section would have given me a very good overview of housing and what happens from the time you apply for housing through the housing list to go through all the different tiers to finally be allocated.
When I got the job in CHI, I was working in Focus Ireland and the housing officer at the time knew that I was probably fatigued from the acute homelessness and also had hit a wall in the role. So, I was on the hunt for a new job and applied for the CHI. So for me, it was a natural progression to go from where I was to where I am now.
I have been in CHI here nearly three years. Our work practices never changed during covid. We were on our estates every week. We were cautious and did adhere to guidelines, but we did manage to get a lot done.
The day-to-day role is often trying to prevent problems before they arise with Members. You are creating relationships, trying to read what’s going on between Members, where the friction is, where the strength is, the challenges, to enable that community to grow together in the nicest way possible. We spend a lot of time on the estates trying to get a feel for the community and to create good relationships, that’s the ethos of CHI. I consider all my estates to be a family and I tell them that, we’re all in the one family, we’re all in the CHI family, looking for the same things.Then we liaise with other offices to keep you in the loop to let you know what is or is not going on. We also liaise with local councils all the time, trying to keep the doors open and the relationships healthy there.
What I Like Best
What I like best about my job is that it’s never the same day, every day is different. Being in the same routine everyday just doesn’t suit my personality. My personality can be quirky, I bring a lot of that into the work, and it’s accepted because I’m working with so many different nationalities and types of people. Sometimes I’m on the estate and they’re all looking at me like, ‘Ok, is this normal, is she now serious or is she actually joking’ those types of scenarios where you really have people’s attention for the best possible outcome for something is brilliant. I really enjoy that kind of interactive stuff. I was in Rivercourt, Carlow last week allocating houses and I was just waiting on my last one. So, I sat on the footpath with about 15 children around me, and we played a game getting to know their names. That kind of thing surprises people, because when you hold a role that could be perceived as authoritative, they don’t expect you to get down and sit on the path with their kids and have a normal conversation and the children really enjoy it. But that is the stuff that builds relationships with Members.
Maria, the Area Services Manager, is always in my corner, it’s important to me to have someone who knows who I am, what I would do, what I would never do. It’s really important to me to know that I have a team and a manager who will support me. Everyone on the team is different but we work together and learn from each other. It’s a mix of backgrounds, everyone is at a different learning point, and you can’t swing them to be at yours and they can’t swing you to be at theirs. Sometimes, it’s like looking at a film and seeing everyone do their thing but you can’t interfere with it.
It's a nice workplace. In general, CHI is a good and fair employer. Last year, while I was going through some personal issues, I was getting phone calls off people I didn’t really expect but I really appreciated it at the time and those small things make a massive difference.
Co-operative Housing Ireland is an Approved Housing Body (AHB) and works closely with various stakeholders in the housing sector, including Local Authorities, Government, aspiring home owners, tenants and developers, to provide high quality social-rented and home ownership co-operative homes across the country. CHY 6522 Registered Charity Number 20012182