BY TOBY PORTER
A 13-year-old is celebrating becoming the youngest person in the UK to gain a qualification in social housing.
Zainab Agboola from Grove Park, Lewisham, took part in a course on the history and values of social housing earlier this summer.
Run by social landlord Phoenix CommunityHousing, the Chartered Institute of Housing-accredited Phoenix Academy teaches social housing residents and staff about the running of housing providers, covering topics including housing finance and sustainable development.
The Phoenix Academy supports social and private tenants to better understand their rights and responsibilities.
The first of its kind in the UK, the academy aims to help lead the conversation on empowering tenants to have a larger say in how their homes are run.
Zainab said: “I took part in the academy because I wanted to help some of the most vulnerable people, to help them secure suitable accommodation and help them improve their lives.
“And the academy gave me a really good head start to a career in housing one day.
“Because when the day is over and night comes, everyone needs somewhere to go – and I want to help them.”
Zainab, who was inspired by her mother Folashade Balogun who also completed the course, said: “Young people need to be taken seriously by adults. One day, the world will be in our hands.
“Give us the opportunity to help solve the problems our communities are facing.”
Anne McGurk, tenant and chairwoman of Phoenix Community Housing, said: “Well done to Zainab Agboola.
She’s a reminder that children and young people are co-creators of the future.
“Let’s make sure we listen to them and involve them in building tomorrow’s world. A world fit for all to enjoy.”
Phoenix set up its school of social housing in 2014 as a way to encourage and empower residents to get involved in the organisation.
“Since it was set up, three graduates of the academy have gone on to join its board.”
The Phoenix Academy, run out of The Green Man community hub in Lewisham, is open to anyone interested in social housing.
It’s now recruiting for its Level 2 and Level 3 courses which begin in October.
More information on the Phoenix Academy is available on its website.