Hyde has been an integral part of Sahra’s life from an early age. She tells us what that support, at home and at work, has meant to her.
In 1999, when Sahra was nine years old, she and her family were among the first people to move into one of our new homes in Stonebridge, Brent, in North-West London.
'We would never have been able to afford to buy a place of our own, so we were overwhelmed that we were given something so beautiful at a price we could afford,' she recalls.
'It was a big transformation and had a huge impact. We felt better about ourselves and had more aspirations.'
Sahra says she doesn’t see any 'stigma' in living in a Hyde home or in Stonebridge. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.
'We’re not just neighbours that live next to one another, we are a full-on community.'
An important aspect to Hyde’s approach was investment in the community, and not just the houses, which meant more social engagement and in turn led to Sahra pursuing a career with the housing association at 16 years old.
She now works as a welfare benefits adviser for Hyde, supporting residents in her local community to access the help they need in times of crisis and hardship.
Her first job was with Hyde at Stonebridge’s community centre, opposite her mum’s home. Encouraged by senior colleagues, Sahra returned to education, carrying on with her job while studying at university for a degree in economics. Sahra also joined our mentoring programme. She was then promoted to a supervisor’s role at the community centre and then as part of our social investment arm Hyde Foundation, which aims to prevent homelessness and contribute to placemaking.
That ignited her interest in project management, and following a secondment as an employment adviser and more study, she was ready for the move into a different area of advising – welfare benefits.
Removing barriers to people fulfilling their potential is a process she finds both personally rewarding, as well as being part of a bigger picture of regeneration for Stonebridge.
She says: 'I support people as much as I can to enable them to support themselves. Giving them the tools that they need means the long-term regeneration of Stonebridge continues.
'If I can help someone to create that power for themselves, they don’t need that much more. That’s the whole ethos of Hyde Foundation – it takes a holistic look at giving people a step up.'
As for so many of us, the last year during the Covid pandemic has been difficult and has required new ways of working.
Sahra says it’s been important to have an employer that is 'receptive to us having our voice and listening to it'. That has also included improving the focus on diversity and inclusion, particularly in response to Black Lives Matter. There are now specialist networks and groups that staff are encouraged to join, including a women’s network and LGBTQ+ group.
Sahra sees Hyde from both sides of the fence, as she both works at the housing association and has been living in a Hyde home for eight years, where she is bringing up her children, aged five, six and eight.
'My Hyde home is more than just a home. It’s somewhere I can build connections, plan for my own and my family’s future and feel safe and secure.'
She adds: 'Hyde gives people a house to build their future – it makes anything possible.'