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Natalie Warrilow joined Bromford in September 2016 as a
neighbourhood coach in Staffordshire – here she tells us all about her first few weeks in the role.


Why Bromford?

The company I used to work for carried out gas works and part of my job was all about liaising with customers to let them know what kind of work was going to be done in their homes. Every so often I went out to meet them and I really enjoyed getting out of the office and meeting people face-to-face. I love getting to know people and the neighbourhood coach role looked like the perfect opportunity for me to use my skills and try something a bit different. 

Getting started

I started on 26 September and, as well as some classroom and online training, I spent about four weeks shadowing experienced housing managers. This was great as I love to learn on the job, in my opinion there’s no substitute for getting out there and just getting stuck in. I’ve learned so much and I’ve been really surprised by the amount of different situations we come across.

There were a few of us that started at the same time so it’s been great to grow and learn together – we’re all really eager and enthusiastic about the role. I’m really excited as it’s all brand new so we can shape it as we go.

After getting a taster, I was chomping at the bit to get out on my patch and I started meeting my customers and carrying out visits on my own in November.

How have you found it?

The customers that I’ve met so far have embraced the new way of working and it’s been great for me to be able to start with a blank page; I just ask them to tell me about themselves and we go from there.

It’s really early days but my workload is increasing quickly. In my first week I came across a potential adult safeguarding case and a neighbour dispute over parking in addition to generating a rent report to identify my customers who are under occupying their homes and customers affected by the Benefit Cap.

I handled the parking dispute over the telephone. I was able to take the time to listen to the customer, have a really good conversation with them and arrange to meet up with them at a later date to get to know them better. From what I’ve heard, this might not have been possible before the introduction of neighbourhood coaching. If you manage around 500 homes it would be pretty tough to take the time to get know your customers. Luckily, I have around 175 homes to manage and I’ve already found the time to knock on a few doors and say hello – it’s lovely to be able to get to know people and them see me in a positive light - not just someone who gets involved when things go wrong.

When I give customers my telephone number and email address so they can contact me directly I’ve seen a few pleasantly surprised faces. A frustration for some customers is that they have to call our main number and wait in a queue, so to have direct access to a neighbourhood coach should really help them – and it’s a great way for me to get to know my customers and build those all-important relationships too.

What advice would you give?

Locality manager Emma O’Sullivan has given me a couple of great pieces of advice that I would pass on to anyone:

  1. Take it slowly - don’t take too much on too soon.
  2. Don’t put pressure on yourself - be realistic with timescales and what’s achievable.

There’s so much to learn but you’ve got to remember that the job is all about getting to know the people in your neighbourhood. Rushing around and knocking on all the doors in your locality might get your face known quickly but what kind of conversations can you have if you’re putting pressure on yourself to meet everyone in a short space of time? It’s far better to under promise and over deliver!

What next?

I’ve already realised that people are so unpredictable and you never know what might happen from one minute to the next so I haven’t put any pressure on myself to develop a strategy. Having open and honest conversations and embracing a coaching approach to working with our customers means that you have to be really flexible and open minded.

I’m really looking forward to getting to know all the people on my patch, learning about their skills and talents, helping them to realise their goals and getting involved in helping to connect the whole community together – exciting times.


If you think you can help our customers to achieve their goals and aspirations take a look at our current vacancies

Hi there, I'm one of the writers and content creators at Bromford...It's all about storytelling and social media for me.  

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