Making a Difference
to people's lives

Karen Marshall, Housing Area Manager

Karen first joined the council nearly 40 years ago in October 1984, as part of the Youth Training Scheme, and went on to move to the Trust in 1999.

For Wrekin's 25 year anniversary in March, we caught up with staff who've been with us since the very beginning, asking about their Wrekin journey and highlights over the years.

Karen's first role was Records Clerk but she went on to work as a Housing Benefits Assessor, Rent Allowance Clerk, Housing Officer, Court Officer, Complaints Manager (and other roles!) and became an Area Manager 20 years ago.

“I remember when we transferred to the Trust, we had to consult with all the residents to see if they wanted to stop with the council or move to join us. It was a huge project. We would walk door to door.”

Thinking back to her days working in the shops, Karen remembers the huge amounts of money they had to carry and the queues down the street when the bus passes were being renewed.

“I used to have to go out and collect the rent – Ketley Bank was my patch. I was there with a magic wallet collecting £5 notes. Back in those days we would take about £10-15k in a full morning in Ketley and Overdale. I’d be walking on my own with a big jacket going ‘clank clank’!”

“I even trained David Wells who is now our Executive Director of Operational Serivces, back in the day. So that’s my claim to Wrekin fame! Dave was an Area Housing Officer before he quickly climbed the ladder. He used to bribe me with chocolate to do his rent collecting rounds. If he’s reading this, I never did get that chocolate!"

Asked about how things differ now to 25 years ago Karen highlights some of the structural changes:

“I managed trades when I first started as Area Manager. We didn’t have MSU back then, we had a small team of about 10 trades for our area. A lot of the structure has changed but I think it’s also come full circle in a way. The lettings team for example was separate first, then brought into small area teams and is now separate again.”

For Karen, working in housing has been her life and there is no where else she would want to work:

"If you told me when I was 17 that I would be working in housing! I sort of fell in to it but I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. I’ve never really wanted to move up, I just wanted to be happy. I love getting up in the morning and I never work from home – I’d rather be working from the Wellington hub with the team.”

"I think at Wrekin we stand out from the rest because we’re so forward thinking. We change things only if it’s right, not for change sake. What’s nice here is that if there are times you doubt yourself there is always someone there saying ‘you can do this’. There has never been a day I didn’t want to come to work."

"When every day is a pleasure, nothing is a chore. You come to work happy and go home happy – that’s my balance."