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There’s been a lot of talk about coaching and colleagues building stronger relationships with customers at Bromford. But what does this actually look and feel like? We caught up with Matt Buckham, who joined us in May 2017 as head of locality for South Midlands, to find out why he chose Bromford and how it’s going six months down the line.

Why did you choose Bromford?
I’ve been in housing for what seems like forever, so I knew about Bromford and loved the approach of challenging the norm, piloting new ideas, learning what had gone well or not so well, and then being brave and rolling out new ways of working.

The head of locality role is the perfect role for me to develop my coaching skills. Coaching turns the traditional landlord to tenant relationship on its head and is all about what people and communities have got at their finger-tips and what they want to achieve. We play a role as a community anchor with our homes and amazing colleagues to bring communities together. It’s about navigating the path towards that, whilst not judging or directing.

What did you do before?
My last role was as a senior community investment manager at Wandle HA in south London, a varied role with a team of employment, digital inclusion, welfare reform and resident involvement colleagues. Prior to that, I was at Affinity Sutton HA developing local social enterprises and community centres. Before then I held a range of community regeneration roles for various HA’s including Midland Heart, Beth Johnson, and Jobcentre Plus.

What have you learned since joining Bromford?
Bromford’s DNA is more cemented into our colleagues than any other organisation I’ve worked for - you don’t actually work for Bromford, you’re an intrinsic part of it!

I’m on a continuous learning curve and, in a short space of time, have learnt that our customers are individuals with different needs and wants, and as we’re getting to know them more we’re finding that they often have higher resilience, skills and abilities than we might have previously thought. It’s our role to coach and navigate conversations to help draw those out. We’re on the start of that journey and no-one has all the answers.

What’s the latest in the South Midlands?
South Midlands locality went live at the end of August with our neighbourhood coaches on patch across Northamptonshire, Cherwell, Aylesbury, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire. Andrea Gilchrist, locality manager, has done an amazing job in recruitment and getting everyone up to speed with their new roles.

We are in the midst of some significant changes - on one hand we’ve got Griffin Place, our 24/7 homeless scheme which has just recently had a new interim manager, several new bank colleagues and is going through some operational changes to bring it in line with our localities approach. On the other hand we’ve got Andrea and our coaches starting on their journey with my role helping to seamlessly join those two up into one formidable team.

We’re developing around 500 homes in the area and have a pipeline of around 800 more, so we need to build capacity to be able to manage and coach these new customers and their communities.

Finally, please tell us bit more about you and what you bring to your team

I would say I bring energy, passion, enthusiasm and drive to our South Midlands team. As a leader I tend to lean towards empowering colleagues through coaching, but where that coaching needs to be slightly more directive I can switch my technique where needed.

I’ve recently become a Dad which is a bit of a life changer! I’m a keen sportsman and have played football and squash in my younger years to a decent level and still try to keep active and fairly fit and I enjoy walking holidays, particularly in Cornwall. Music is also a keen passion of mine and something which is an escapism. I enjoy playing the guitar, trying to sing and write the odd song or two in my spare time.

To find out more about Matt and the work he, the South Midlands team, and Bromford are doing, you can follow him on Twitter @bucko1983

If, like Matt, you'd like to get involved in Bromford's exciting future, take a look at our latest 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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