Gemma Magee, Young People’s Service area manager at Aldwyck, explains how she supports young people to live independently, what she thinks of recent welfare reform, and her regrets about travelling
Tell us about your job.
I am the area manager for the Young Persons Service (YPS) at Aldwyck Housing Group, and I support young people to gain the necessary skills to live independently.
The service we offer is temporary for a maximum of 18 months and we support young people aged between 16 and 25 who have a variety of needs.
I cover the north of Hertfordshire, which has three YPS schemes, and the floating support service, which we run alongside charity Herts Young Homeless.
How did you get into housing?
When I was at university I focused on working in social care with vulnerable groups. I worked in the voluntary and private sectors before finding the job at Aldwyck.
In my previous roles I was able to see how homelessness affected every part of someone’s life when they had other issues they were dealing with. In YPS we are able to give the young people the stability they need with their housing to give them the chance to focus on other parts of their lives.
What is the best part of your job?
I enjoy seeing some of the young people make real changes to their lives that you know will give them a better future.
What’s the worst part?
It would be witnessing the barriers that young people face in society.
This is something we see every day. For example, an individual might not be able to access mental health services because they don’t meet the thresholds for support.
What would you change about the housing sector?
There are quite a few things that I think need to change, but the most important would be to ensure the demand for social housing is met. I would focus on homelessness to ensure there was adequate housing support services available for those who need it.
If you could be prime minister for the day, what would you do?
I would focus on the recent changes to welfare reform. They are hitting those who are most in need.
What would your superpower be?
To help heal people who are ill.
What’s the most private thing you’d be willing to admit to your colleagues?
I regret going straight into work after university, as I would have liked to travel a bit more. But I wouldn’t be where I am today if I hadn’t gone down that path.