Vicky Gladden (centre) with BCHA CEO, Lorraine Mealings, and Interim Head of Function, Lloyd Coates
 Vicky Gladden (centre) with BCHA CEO, Lorraine Mealings, and Interim Head of Function, Lloyd Coates

A former Bournemouth secondary school teacher who left her career to help people experiencing homelessness has been recognised for her ‘inspirational’ work at the Housing Heroes Awards 2024.

Vicky Gladden joined leading charitable housing association BCHA in June 2019 and in just five years has gone from support worker to heading up her department.

BCHA is a major provider of a diverse range of housing, support and learning services for socially excluded people.

Vicky said: “I knew I wanted to help people. I was inspired by my parents - my dad is a paramedic, and my mum undertook many fundraising events.

“I am passionate about working with people - customers and colleagues alike - and BCHA is a fantastic organisation to work for and perfectly aligned with my own values.” 

Vicky started work in BCHA’s supported accommodation Lansdowne Gardens in Bournemouth, helping those who’ve experienced homelessness and the trauma that goes with this.

“Supporting customers who’ve felt hopeless, with a firm belief they will never succeed, to move into independent accommodation and return to work is a privilege,” she said.

“I think my teaching background also means I’m invested in learning and development and helping customers evolve.”

Vicky’s maturity, her natural ability to connect and communicate, her attention to detail, and her passion for supporting positive outcomes for tenants, meant that she was offered the opportunity to temporarily act as service manager.

She thrived, and so did the service and tenants. This role was soon offered to her on a permanent basis. All within six months of starting her new job in a new sector.

Vicky is seen as a supportive and inspirational mentor for her colleagues and has supported six people to go on to management in BCHA.

“I want to lead by example,” she said. “I wouldn’t ask someone to do something I wouldn’t do myself and I personally enjoy being able to see people improve and be promoted, even if I’ve played a small part. Nurturing people’s confidence is rewarding and it’s lovely to be part of that journey.”

Vicky’s next role was to implement Psychologically Informed Environments (PIE) at BCHA.

She said: “I led on ensuring that we consider the psychological and emotional needs of our customers in every aspect of our services and supporting our staff to implement this across BCHA.”

Vicky received Highly Commended in the Inspirational Colleague category at the Housing Heroes Awards.

Since her nomination, she has gone on to receive a further promotion - as Interim Head of Support.

She said: “I’m enjoying the challenge of working to change the culture of the entire organisation, championing what colleagues want, and customers need. Making sure people have a voice, and reframing how we approach support.”

A colleague who contributed to her award submission said: “Vicky’s focus on safety and quality has enhanced the lives of survivors, and her guidance to the team will continue this work. She inspires me to strive for change, even when hurdling through challenges, and to do so with a smile on your face.”

Vicky added: “I’m very grateful for my journey at BCHA and the amazing people I’ve met over the years.

“I love what BCHA stands for, its good principles and the good things we’re working towards. We make changes and that’s what I love. Small wins are big wins.

“Knowing I’ve inspired others along the way is incredibly rewarding, thank you to everyone who helped me get here.”

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