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A day in the life of Gemma Shields

Posted: September 15, 2023

With Scottish Housing Day having taken place this week, and this year’s theme focusing on housing as a career, we’re looking behind the scenes to see what our housing staff members do, and how their roles are vital in operating and continually developing the service we offer our tenants.

In our final a day in the life feature, we’re following Hillcrest Energy Advice Team (HEAT) Advisor, Gemma Shields.

Tell us a little bit about you and your role.

Gemma (middle), with HEAT Officer Euan Hird and Tenant Services Manager, Joy Melville.

I am an energy advisor with Hillcrest Energy Advice Team. I provide energy advice to tenants to ensure their bills are as low as possible. I provide advice both over the phone and face-to-face.

How did you get into a career in housing?

I started as a housing assistant with a different housing association, then moved to Hillcrest as a customer service advisor. While in this team, I job shadowed Hillcrest Energy Advice Team (HEAT) and loved the work that they do, as it had such a fantastic impact in supporting our tenants. When an opportunity to join the team became available, I applied and was successful in getting the role. I’ve been here since 2018 and enjoy working with tenants and helping them to sustain their tenancies.

What would you say to others who are considering a career in the housing sector?

It is a great sector to work in, and there is a real feel-good factor from helping people daily.


Your day

9 am: I started the day by checking the HEAT diary and work-tray to prioritise tasks. I then had some calls to make to tenants, and booked appointments for them for next week if required. I then prepared for home visits and caught up with the other HEAT team members to discuss and assist each other with any complex cases.

11 am: I attended the first couple of home-visits of the day, showing the tenants how to use their heating system in the most efficient way. This included showing one how their solar panel system works too. I also sourced funding to hopefully help clear a tenant’s fuel debt, which I’ll follow up on to try and get secured.

1 pm: With it being the time of year when energy suppliers begin to open their Warm Home Discount schemes for applications, I spent some time putting together some information to be sent out to tenants. The various schemes will open over the coming weeks, so we wanted to notify them of where to apply and when each scheme should open for applications.

3 pm: I assisted a tenant with a complaint to the energy regulator, Ofgem, regarding incorrect billing, which was £1,500 higher than it should have been. This was due to their energy supplier incorrectly estimating the amount.

5 pm: To finish off the day, I applied for a fuel debt write-off for a few of the tenants I’ve visited, using information collected from them during the home visits. I inputted all of my work for the day onto our contact management system and sent text reminders to my home visit appointments for tomorrow.