Progress Housing Group's Deputy Executive Director Tammy Bradley writes for International Women's Day

At Progress Housing Group I work as Deputy Executive Director and along with all colleagues we have been embarking on a values-led training and development programme.

As part of this we were asked to identify who our role models have been. Many, when asked this question, will have specific famous people in mind and passionately explain their reasons and why they look up to that particular person. For me I always struggled with this and quickly realised, that my role model has always been my Gran.

Born in 1914 in the North East and raised in a wealthy family environment, my Gran  married, had children and unfortunately divorced at a young age, which was uncommon in those days. She remarried my grandfather and subsequently was bought a first class ticket to sail to meet him in South Africa where they were relocating due to his work commitments.

My Gran didn’t understand or agree with the class separation on the boat and a bit like in the Titanic, would disappear down to the lower decks to enjoy the frivolities. She stood up for what she believed in, and found ways to overcome many barriers in her life to achieve what others would see as the unachievable.

So how did my Gran help or influence me?

Well, I was born in South Africa, but on returning to England at a very young age our family lived in social housing and were not particularly rich. What we did have was a supportive family environment where education and ambition was encouraged. I ended up being the first person in our family to go to University and obtain a degree.

My passion was always to work with disadvantaged groups and I have volunteered with young people, people with physical and learning disabilities, children and the elderly. My career aspirations were to be a social worker, but despite having a degree and lots of voluntary work and experience this wasn’t enough to qualify for social work training. It was then that I started job searching and ‘fell into’ housing, starting as a housing assistant working in social housing.

The variety and scope of work involved in my first social housing role was immense. I supported tenants into housing, employment, through abusive relationships, mental health and wellbeing, antisocial behaviour and many other issues and absolutely loved being able to make a difference to people’s lives – helping them to overcome their own barriers.

I have been fortunate in that many opportunities have presented themselves along my career path, meaning that I have been able to progress my personal development through post graduate qualifications and promotions to the post that I am in today. Yes, there have been barriers along the way, such as missing out on an opportunity whilst on maternity leave, but this has not held me back or prevented me from progressing, it just made me more determined!

I encourage all women to overcome those barriers, remain true to your own values and take action or ask for support when necessary and always believe in yourself.