Jo Salim, who works for local landlord ForHousing and helps people to keep a roof over their heads, has won the Public Servant of the Year Award at the Spirit of Salford Community Awards.
Organised by Salford City Council, the awards celebrate local people making a difference in their community.
Jo is part of ForHousing’s Tenancy Sustainment Service (TSS), which works with tenants in need of extra support to look after their homes and keep their tenancy on track.
Jo had been nominated secretly by a tenant who wanted to thank her for her dedication and hard work in helping others, describing Jo as an “angel of life”.
Jo said: “It felt just brilliant even to be nominated, so to have won really took me by surprise! I feel like I have won this award for the team and I’m so proud to put TSS on the map.
Jo, who has been in her current role for about five years and was a housing officer for a decade before that, said: “I’ve always done charity work and been involved in volunteering in my community, as well as for uni when I studied youth work
“I was brought up to believe that we should ‘give and forget, receive and remember’ – so helping people comes naturally to me.
“For the council to recognise this makes me stop and think. It’s normal for me and my team – we’re just doing our job to help tenants – but it can be too easy to forget what a difference we are making in other people’s lives.”
Jo and her team work with tenants to develop a personalised support plan to help them turn their life around. Support put in place ranges from budgeting advice to coaching on life skills, and from wellbeing help to access to food banks.
“We are a small, dedicated team working with tenants with complex issues to maintain their tenancy. Over the last 12 months, the team has supported 96 tenants to sustain their tenancies and has maximised tenants’ short- and long-term income by £637,000 over the last 12 months.
“The people we work with are going through a really difficult time, maybe they’ve got mental health issues, or they are burying their head in the sand about challenges they are facing.
“We help people from all walks of life. Everyone from every background deserves help and it’s something I’m really passionate about.
“Being described as an ‘angel of life’ by the tenant who nominated me was really surreal. She was already only just getting by and then was furloughed in the pandemic, and lost family members to the virus too. I helped her get more support – just as I help others whose lives have taken a hit or just progressively gone downhill – but it’s a special feeling for that to be recognised.
“I’m privileged that people trust me with details of their personal life and that I can make a positive difference in their life thanks to the support ForHousing provides, and seeing these tenants thrive again is incredible.”
The progressive landlord, which owns and manages over 24,000 houses across the North West, puts tenants at the heart of everything they do to make more things possible for more people.
Martyn Hague, Executive Director of Customer at ForHousing, said: “We are all really proud of Jo – and more broadly of the whole team within the Tenancy Sustainment Service. They continually go above and beyond to support tenants to prevent homelessness and transform people’s lives.
“We understand things are really tough for a lot of our tenants right now. We have a wide range of support available and would urge anyone who is struggling with their finances to get in touch with us. We are here to help.”
For further information and advice call ForHousing on 0300 123 5522 or contact them via the website www.forhousing.co.uk