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GEMS graduates shaping NI’s housing future

Published: Mon, 18 Dec 2017
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The four university graduates
Four university graduates are beginning new careers helping shape the future of housing in Northern Ireland.
Queen’s University Alumni Amy Peden and Clare Meehan from Belfast have joined Fermanagh man Joseph Elliott and Tyrone woman Rona Simmonds at the Housing Executive, under the GEMS Graduate Trainee programme.
Coming from a range of academic backgrounds, including Psychology, English Language, Criminology and Social Policy, all four graduate trainees are utilising their skills in a range of roles.
Work is being undertaken in several departments, including Community Cohesion, Income Collection, Leasehold and Social Enterprise.
30 year old Psychology graduate Clare Meehan, once a student at St Louise’s College on Belfast’s Falls Road, said;
“I have a passion for making a difference to people’s lives.
“I’m working in the Community Cohesion Unit, helping run the Digital for Change Project.
“We’ve provided tenants with lpads, installed broadband in their homes and trained them do things like pay bills online.
“I know it’s helping people in their day-to-day lives and I’m excited about my new role.”
Speaking after completing his first month on the job, the former Devenish College student Joseph Elliott, said; “I always wanted to work in public services, helping provide better outcomes for other people.
“I’ve done previous work with housing associations and I’d engaged in the social rented sector across the UK looking at local council housing stock to evaluate the impact of welfare reform.
“This inspired me to apply for the GEMS scheme and I’m delighted I got the job.”
Joseph admits it’s a long way from his Lakeland family farm in Fermanagh, saying; “I’ve been very surprised at the size of the Housing Executive and the huge scope of the work it undertakes but everything for me has been positive so far.”
Since 2009, the GEMS Programme, operated by the Centre for Partnership, has placed graduates in work placements in a range of housing organisations.
From last year’s intake, two West Belfast women, Naoimh McArdle-McFall, and Rebecca Miskelly successfully completed their placement and were immediately recruited into full time positions with the Housing Executive.
For more information on the GEMS Programme, visit