My name is Hayley and I recently graduated from Cardiff Met with a BSc (Hons) in Housing Studies.
I started my Cardiff Met journey three years ago when I was working for Santander on Campus. After a conversation with a Lecturer, I ended up going to a taster session, fell in love with the course and applied. After being accepted, nerves set in as I was giving up a full-time job to go back and study. The induction week really settled my nerves and after a short while, I had made some friends and I was ready to learn about housing and homelessness and how to make a difference in the community.
After my first year, I started to realise that homelessness was what interested me the most within the course and that knowledge helped me to secure a part-time job working with the Housing Options Team at Bridgend Council. This really gave me a boost as I was able to relate what I was learning in a work environment and vice versa.
At the end of my second year, I started to think about my dissertation and put some ideas together. Housing First was something that interested me as its aim went beyond putting people who were homeless straight into a home (as housing under this model is seen as a right), but wrapping services around that person to ensure sustainability and support. I wanted to incorporate this into my dissertation but I wasn’t sure how.
During my third year, an email was sent around offering bursaries to complete research abroad. I took this opportunity straight away and applied to go to Finland (the most successful country using the Housing First Model in the world). In March 2019, I travelled to Helsinki and spent the week with the Y-Foundation learning about the incredible journey of reducing homelessness across their nation and visiting projects that support people who have been homeless. It was an amazing opportunity that gave me plenty of data for my dissertation, allowed me to network with the CEO of the fourth largest housing association in Finland and I had a lot of fun along the way.
At the end of my third year before my graduation, I secured a job working with Housing Justice Cymru as a Catalyst Worker. Housing Justice is the Christian voice for housing and homelessness across England and Wales. I am now taking the lead with the Neath Port Talbot winter night shelter and launching a pilot project which aims to help people who are, or have been homeless, find independence in a positive way. This is exactly the type of job I dreamed of when I first started my degree and three years later it has become a reality!
I can’t thank the Housing Studies team enough for all the support and encouragement they have given me along the way! It truly has been an awesome journey and I highly, highly recommend studying at Cardiff Met.