Getting to know our repairs operatives!

Getting to know our repairs operatives!
Five minute read
Published: 17 Nov 2023

Our repairs team are dedicated to keeping your home in working order. We met up with Shanice, a multi-skilled operative who specialises in plumbing, trainee electrician Jess, and Klaudia, a multi-skilled operative with expertise in heating and gas work.

What was your journey into getting this role?

Shanice – “I’ve always wanted to get into plumbing but when you’re young and female you get labelled as a tomboy and pushed towards things like hairdressing and beauty. It wasn’t until I got a bit older that I decided to do what I’d dreamed of doing. I did two years in college then two years as an apprentice, then the person I did my apprenticeship with brought me to Watford Community Housing, where I’ve been ever since.”

Jess – “I’ve wanted to be an electrician since I was in secondary school as my grandad was one. I went to check out a college and they turned me down – also saying to do hair and beauty instead. I ended up doing a variety of jobs but then Covid-19 hit, and I thought ‘life is too short, let’s study to be an electrician’. I want to eventually start my own business with my friend who is a gas engineer.”

Klaudia – “My husband was a gas engineer and I worked in the office of a gas company so was always interested in the trade. It wasn’t until my boiler broke down and two girls from a company called ‘Girls on Gas’ came to fix it that I seriously considered it. They told me it was a great job if you are working around having kids and they inspired me to give it a go – the following month I started my courses.”

What’s a typical day like?

Shanice – “It varies day to day! You can have five jobs planned in a day but if an emergency comes in then that takes priority. That’s what I enjoy about the plumbing – you can do five of the same jobs, but they can all be so different, some can take 10 minutes and some two hours. Some are an easy fix and sometimes you have to do a lot of problem-solving to find out where a leak is coming from!”

Jess – “It really varies! With empty properties we have to do an Electrical Installation Condition Report before a new tenant moves in, which can take from four hours to a whole day if there is a fault. Then, like Shanice, it is a bit of a mystery, and it can take a lot of problem solving to find the fault.”

Klaudia – “I do gas safety checks which need to be done on a property every year, checking for gas leaks, breaks and repairs.”

What is your favourite part of the job?

Shanice – “In the nicest way possible, I love proving people wrong. I have had tenants who have said ‘I’ve had five plumbers try this and no-one can do it, why do you think you could do it?’ – and then I fix it. As females we do get doubted a lot, so when we can prove we are just as good as the men, it is satisfying.”

Jess – “For me it’s upgrading things – for example the old consumer units are like spaghetti junction, so it’s nice to be able to upgrade it to something neat and tidy and easier for the next tenants. It is nice ripping out old stock and putting in something shiny and new.”

Klaudia – “I love being out and about, and being active. That is what is great about any labouring jobs, you are always on the move.”

Do you feel supported by Watford Community Housing?

Jess – “I do! We have had customers send positive feedback directly to the chief executive which has come back to us, which was really nice. You don’t always hear about the positives, so it is nice when you are recognised.”

Do you like being in a customer-facing role and meeting tenants?

Shanice – “Plumbing is a customer-facing role, and I really enjoy working with and for people. We are providing a service that is genuinely wanted and needed and are helping someone in a potentially bad situation, so you do go home thinking you have done something good.”

What would you say to others who are thinking of getting into a trade?

Klaudia – “Go for it and don’t stop.”

Do you want to join our repairs team?

Check out our current vacancies here