Andrew Lord Onward Homes, Partner Spotlight

We asked Andrew Lord, Head of Neighbourhood Services at Onward Homes, about how the pathway to his current role took place, his highlights working within communities across Greater Manchester and benefits of partnership work through Athena.

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I had a background working in consultancy, writing funding bids, developing regeneration plans etc for a range of organisations. We did some work with a housing association in the midlands that I found interesting and having an interest in people and place this drew me towards the social housing sector.

Working in Housing 

My role is Head of Neighbourhood Services for Onward Homes, covering our Greater Manchester and Cheshire East region. The role is extremely varied and interesting, overseeing our tenancy and neighbourhood management service across over 11,000 properties in 17 neighbourhoods. It is a cliché, but no day is the same and the challenges and opportunities to make a difference are wide ranging.

I also head up Onward’s social investment service. This involves working with a team of colleagues who deliver, support, commission or invest in a wide range of projects and organisations who are doing some really great work in our communities. All of the team’s work is based around our six themes, covering areas as broad as building strong communities, food resilience, youth work and mental wellbeing and greenspace. It is great to see some of the superb initiatives that some amazing organisations are doing across the North West.

The highlight of my work is when I see how the team and Onward more generally can help these organisations to achieve even more, whether through offering our time, advice or funding.

The Athena Partnership

Being part of the Athena partnership has benefitted us by helping to simplify what is often a quite complex world of employment support and find out more about a number of organisations that can support our residents. It has also been a forum to allow most of the housing providers in Greater Manchester to come together, exchange ideas, seek partnering opportunities and identify appropriate funding bids to widen the reach of the work that our organisations do. I don’t see the work of housing providers being in competition with one another at all in this area – at the end of the day all our teams are focused on making a positive difference. Being a member of Athena certainly helps with that and I am looking forward to continuing to work as part of the partnership as we look to identify and progress more partnering and funding opportunities in the future.

Looking towards the future

It’s a sector with loads of varied roles from customer service to tradespersons, from housing management to HR, finance to development etc. Lots of registered providers are large employers across the North West so I would recommend you checking out the websites of all those providers who have properties near you. Inside Housing, and national programmes like the GEM programme are great ways of seeing opportunities and getting into the sector.