Make Yourself At Home

Jenna King, a member of the Housing Development Team has recently set up home with her family - so we thought she'd be the best person in the team to create a new course for the Tenant Academy on how to, 'Make Yourself A Home'.

Here's what she did and how it went...

It wasn’t too long ago since I set up my first home so it was me that was asked to create a course for future SBC tenants, to help them understand more about their housing options and the Tenancy Agreement.

I named the course ‘Make Yourself at Home’, as this is the aim – for people to feel confident that they have the right knowledge and understanding to run their home effectively.

The training was run at Booth House, a homeless hostel managed by the Salvation Army. We chose to work with the residents there as many of them would eventually move on to live in Swindon Borough Council accommodation.

Some residents had previously lived on their own and some were just starting out. My aim was to inform them of all the things that I would have found useful to know before I moved out and started living on my own. The first thing that sprung to mind was the water bill!

"I had been living in my home for months and not once had it crossed my mind that I hadn’t been paying for water, until the bill came - a letter with big red letters telling me that I owed them a massive amount of money. I felt stupid and a little bit angry with myself for not having thought of this earlier. How could I not have known?? No one had ever mentioned it before, so why would I?".

This got me thinking about how I managed to get myself into debt without even realising it and this training was the perfect opportunity to make sure that others don’t end up making those same mistakes that I once did.

The course ran over 6 weeks where we discussed a range of different topics including tenancy agreements, money management and tenant/landlord responsibilities.

"I didn’t want to just talk at the residents for six weeks (they wouldn’t get much information if they were asleep), so instead I looked at ways that we could work together as a group to find different solutions and share ideas. I tried to fill the sessions with a range of different tasks, group discussions, activities and quizzes".

I was impressed by the way the learners all got involved and were sharing stories of their own experiences along the way. They not only got to learn from what I had prepared for the sessions, they spent a lot of time coming up with their own solutions and helping each other out.

When it came to the end of the 6 weeks I was excited, but also slightly worried about the feedback from the residents. This was the first training I had ever put together and delivered so I couldn’t wait to see what the learners thought. I had enjoyed the sessions so much and looked forward to them each week so I hoped that it had been enjoyable and beneficial to those that had attended too.

I gathered all of the feedback forms and slowly turned them over, to my surprise the first one had scored the training a 10 for enjoyable! I kept reading and the same again another 10! I felt the smile spread across my face as I read “this has been a really helpful course and demonstrated clearly how being a council tenant can have huge benefits to everyone”. I kept reading and another comment that stood out was, “the ladies were helpful every week taking time to listen and understand. I learnt more than I thought I would THANKS!” I felt a real sense of achievement, I had pulled it off, the residents found the training helpful.

The very next day still feeling happy with myself I went to see my manager and told her all about the feedback and how well it seemed to have gone. Now we are looking at ways in which we can carry on the training and use it to help others in the future. If we can help more people starting out to understand what is involved in setting up a home we might be able to stop tenants getting nasty surprises and setbacks and if they do encounter any issues at least they should know that there are people who can help them. We have also agreed to continue work in Booth House and revisit them three times a year to do the training all over again, and I must say I am looking forward to it.

If you're interested in this course or any other course the Tenant Academy runs, please contact Jenna on 01793 464446 or email:

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