At the age of 17, Emma Nicholas found herself homeless after spending years living across the UK in care.
She said: “I didn’t receive any support when left care and ended up homeless in London. I eventually found somewhere to live and worked hard to get on the career ladder. I became the manager of a retail store.”
Sadly, in 2012 Emma’s dad became ill so she moved to Aberdare to become his full time carer.
Emma said: “When my dad got sick my whole life was turned upside down. I went from having a career in London to becoming a full time carer, things became so different.
“After a short while of living back in the valleys my dad passed away, this left me feeling empty and unsure of where my life would go next.”
More tough times followed for Emma. She had three children but sadly lost one at 8 weeks old.
“When I lost my son, I had a breakdown. I was in a really difficult place so decided to move closer to friends who offered to help me out.” Emma explained.
Emma transferred from her previous landlord to a Trivallis home in Penywaun and used this as an opportunity to make a fresh start for her and her family.
Since becoming a Trivallis customer Emma has been involved with a number of the organisation’s involvement initiatives, such as the community involvement network, mystery shopping and sitting on recruitment panels.
“Aside from my children I didn’t feel like I had a purpose in life, so decided I needed to do something about it. Within five weeks of moving to Penywaun, I was volunteering my time with Trivallis to help community groups apply for grant funding. I did this for two years and haven’t looked back since.” Emma explained.
As part of the Community Involvement Network, Emma’s role is to check and challenge the way that Trivallis carries out its services. She has helped look at some of Trivallis’ documents to make sure they’re easy to understand whilst including all of the information that customers need as well as looking at different strategies and plans for the future.
“More recently, I was involved in recruiting Trivallis’ Chief Executive Officer, Ian Thomas. Being able to have my say on who I thought would be the best person to represent Trivallis and its customers meant a lot to me. I feel valued and respected.”
Emma is really passionate about her local community and has been heavily involved in estate clean-ups with the local Neighbourhood Manager. She’s also built up great relationships with people living in the area and is helping to connect them with services that Trivallis offers.
Emma said: “Working with customers isn’t something new for Trivallis, I’ve been involved for over 7 years now and I really feel like I’m making a difference.
“The opportunity to get involved came at the perfect time for me. After losing my dad I felt depressed and didn’t want to get out of bed in the mornings. Now I have a purpose and I truly believe that I have a voice. I’m really proud to be a part of the process that helps constantly improve Trivallis’ services for customers like me.”
As a thanks for her time, Emma is receiving driving lessons with Trivallis’ in house driving school. Her passion for improving social housing means that she’s also looking into opportunities to get a housing degree and, in the future, she’d love to become a Neighbourhood Manager.
Trivallis has many opportunities for customers to get involved. However much time you have to spare, there may be an opportunity for you. Interested? Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 03000 030 888 and ask to speak to a member of the customer involvement team.