Developing a career in the homelessness sector

Sheila Akao-Okeng, Housing First Worker for the Tower Hamlets Street Outreach Response Team, explains how St Mungo’s approach to recruitment helped her develop her passion for helping people sleeping rough into a career in the homelessness sector.

My journey at St Mungo’s started as an Administrator in the Volunteer Services team. I had previously worked for an International Development charity, and loved my job, but was aware of the rise in people sleeping rough in London and keen to do something to help tackle this. The Administrator role at St Mungo’s gave me the perfect opportunity to transfer my skills into a sector that was closer to my passion.

Focusing on transferable skills

St Mungo’s uses competency based recruitment methods. This means that even if you don’t have specific experience in the homelessness sector, the interview process looks at the transferrable skills that you have got. If you haven’t worked in this sector before, don’t let that discourage you from applying for a role here; you can bring innovation and creativity from outside experience into your role.

As an Administrator, I learnt more about the homelessness sector through visiting and working alongside services like StreetLink, Outreach teams and Clearing House to support them in their volunteer recruitment processes. The role was the perfect introduction to the breadth and diversity of St Mungo’s work. It also enabled me to start thinking about what my next career step would be.

Involvement in diversity networks

St Mungo’s champions personal and career development and, as part of this, I joined the Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) Network, one of our seven diversity networks. Staff are allocated three days per year to take part in network activities. This enabled me to have time to be involved in the network and build on my communication and influencing skills. I worked alongside the senior leadership team to strive for equal representation of people across all areas of the organisation.

I learnt a lot as an Administrator and used this experience to apply for a Volunteer Advisor role a year later. This role gave me a new challenge as I spent more time working with our Recovery Colleges to support their volunteers. This role also gave me an opportunity to support our clients to volunteer to aid in their recovery journey.

Career development at its best

Throughout my career here, I’ve had so many opportunities to shadow different teams, understand their work and take on tasks. This has helped me to develop numerous transferable skills, meaning two years on, I have been able to apply for a Housing First worker role.

I love St Mungo’s and I am passionate about the work we do to end homelessness and support people to rebuild their lives. Alongside the diversity networks, St Mungo’s also offers structured and supportive line management, job shadowing, mentoring and coaching opportunities; all of which are aimed at encouraging staff to be the best that they can be in their current role and for a role that they may be working towards.

We’re always looking for positive people with a can do attitude, consistently professional approach and who are passionate about doing their best to join our team. In return we can offer an exceptional employment deal shaped by what our people tell us they value. Find out more about our available roles in our careers pages.