G15 Ethnicity in Housing Awards: Words from our Winner - Corrine Williams
At this years’ G15 Ethnicity in Housing Awards that took place on 25 May 2022, Peabody’s Corrine Williams walked away with the Resident Focus Award. We caught up with her after the ceremony to see how she was feeling.
Congratulations on your award. How did it feel to hear your name read out as the winner?
"I’m going to be perfectly honest, I was shocked and overwhelmed. When I heard ‘Corrine Williams’ called out, I was stuck to my chair. I was so happy and in disbelief, I felt completely humbled and so grateful. I felt like a rabbit caught in the headlights going up on stage, but I was so appreciative to have even be nominated and shortlisted."
Can you tell us a little bit about the work you do at Peabody?
"I am a Wellbeing Coordinator, and my job is to set up Wellbeing Hubs in the communities Peabody provides homes in. We currently have Hubs in Brent, Ealing, Dunstable, and Luton, and we have recently launched a Hub in Oxford. The Hubs have been set up to support the financial, mental, physical, emotional, and social wellbeing of our customers and the wider community, as anyone can access our Hubs. We bring together external services including charities, local providers, and the NHS. We can then assess resident’s needs and signpost them to the correct support services.
The Hubs are also an important social space, we offer a wellbeing café in the morning which also act as warm space in the winter for residents struggling with their energy bills. We also make sure that the offer we provide is accessible to everyone by delivering services in the evening.
Each Hub is unique, as every local area has different needs. I always look at the local strategy and try to identify the key issues in that community. We can then tailor the services we provide to accommodate these. In Brent for example, a big issue is health inequalities, we have managed to establish free comprehensive health checks every month to try and address this. In Dunstable, food insecurity is a key issue, so we set up a food larder for residents.
The Hubs also have a large focus on wellbeing. We fund salsa for wellbeing, sewing for wellbeing, and we’ve provided a men’s health programme targeting marginalised groups in partnership with Public Health England.
It’s hard to believe the hubs concept was only launched in Peabody in 2021, we’ve had such great success in such a short period of time!"
In your nomination, you were described as brining community spaces alive. Where does your passion for local communities and residents come from?
"My grandparents were part of the Windrush generation. I remember my grandmother and grandfather telling me that when people first arrived from the Caribbean, those who had come before them would always introduce them to the local community and offer support. This was really key to helping the Windrush generation stay and establish themselves.
I have always been passionate about communities, I really believe in the power of diverse communities and that when you bring different people together, you can learn so much from them.
For Black History Month, I organised an ‘Afternoon Tea with a Twist’ in Brent. Instead of having scones and cucumber sandwiches, we had Jamaican Patties, Jerk Chicken wings, and Chin Chin. We had Somali tea as well as Chai. Everyone in the community was represented through the food and it was such a successful event. These sort of things are so important for making sustainable communities and that’s why I’m so passionate about them."
Is there a particular colleague that has supported you in your career, and what did their support mean to you?
"There is definitely more than one but my Line Manager, Maria Morgan, really stands out. She joined Peabody with a holistic 360-degree vision of wellbeing, which the organisation has since adopted. She gave me the autonomy and space to be as creative as possible when establishing the Wellbeing Hubs. Our visions really aligned but she gave me the space and the support to realise this vision, I really brought it to life for us. I’m so happy she gave me this independence because it made the Wellbeing Hubs so organic.
The Advice and Wellbeing team have also been so supportive of me. Amanda has been so important for capturing the data about how many people attend the different services we offer, this is essential for measuring the success of the Hubs."
What do you think are the most critical things organisations and colleagues can be doing to include and support minority ethnic colleagues?
"I think the most important thing organisations can do is to give ethnic minority colleagues the opportunity to step outside the box and try things that may be a bit different from their day jobs. Taking the time to ask colleagues if there is something they want to be supported with in their career and encouraging colleagues to take on new opportunities outside of their comfort zone is so important.
This was definitley the case with me, I was a Money and Benefit Advisor for seven years and my role had always been very operational, but I had always wanted to do something more strategic. My current role has given me the opportunity to do more strategic work and the support and encouragement of my manger to take on this new role that I am so passionate about was so important."
What would be your message to anyone thinking of nominating a colleague for next year's awards?
"I would just say ‘go for it!’ Think outside the box and try and think of a colleague that is always there, day in and day out, doing all the work behind the scenes. The colleagues that is incredibly dependable. You can often overlook the colleagues who do not shout the loudest, who do not sell the work that they do, but who are incredibly reliable and will always try to help you.
If you can think of someone with these qualities, go for it and nominate them!"
Finally, where is your award being displayed?
"Oh! My award is up here, on a shelf with all the pictures of my family. Next to the picture of me, my husband, son and my daughter. My daughter also works for Peabody, in the facilities team, she was so proud of me!"
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