Hostel Manager

Homeless women are particularly vulnerable - to drugs, physical and mental abuse and health problems.  They desperately need help, and not the condemnation which society often heaps upon them.  All local authorities except for district councils run hostels and care homes to provide emergency services for people at risk.  The hostel manager is called a co-ordinator in some authorities and is located in the housing needs division of housing services but there is considerable overlap with social services.

Work Environment
The work takes place in a residential hostel.  Sometimes clients may be dirty and aggressive and conditions can be distressing.  There are special security arrangements for coping with these problems and for any violence that might occur.  This is usually a live-in appointment and anti-social shifts are required within a standard 37 hour week.  Even when it is not, the same working flexibility is expected.

Daily Activities
Within the overall responsibility for a 24-hour management of an emergency facility such as a hostel for homeless women, managers are required to:

  • make maximum use of the accommodation available by a rational allocation of rooms; 
  • help residents get all the benefits to which they are entitled; 
  • deal with payment of charges - the accommodation is not free unless there are special circumstances; 
  • organise the deployment of day and night staff, including the operation of a shift rota system and be prepared to be part of it when necessary; 
  • supervise staff and promote their development; 
  • build up effective teams to work within the statutory legislation regarding the homeless; 
  • keep records and a daily log book analysis of events; 
  • take decisive action when occupancy agreements are contravened.

Managers are also responsible for:

  • stock control, ordering equipment and food; 
  • ensuring that the property is kept in good order and that all equipment - cosmetics, books, lamps, cooking utensils and so on - issued to residents is returned when they leave; 
  • making sure that the hostel is kept clean by the residents and the staff and that each room is thoroughly cleaned when vacated; 
  • security of the building at all times; 
  • developing a good relationship between the hostel and the wider community by helping the clients to conduct a normal life, as far as possible, outside of the hostel gates - or, perhaps, by arranging an Open Day and inviting the public in to see what is going on.

The women are not encouraged to see the hostel as a permanent resting place.  The Manager helps them get used to the idea of going back to some kind of normal life through arranging appropriate housing.  Rehousing schemes will be drawn up in conjunction with other teams within the Homelessness/Advisory Services Group, Housing Associations, Housing Management offices and voluntary organisations such as the WVRS and Shelter. Resettlement is undertaken according to the needs and wishes of the individual and is supported by council and voluntary sector housing schemes.  Women who once were homeless are not suddenly required to be fully self-supporting - it is a gradual process.

Skills & Interests
Hostel managers should be able to:

  • supervise, support and motivate staff; 
  • communicate well - verbally and in writing - with residents, colleagues and external agencies; 
  • liaise effectively with agencies in the public, private and voluntary sectors; 
  • work with minimum supervision and on own initiative; 
  • solve problems constructively; 
  • encourage and develop a teamwork approach; 
  • show a respectful and caring attitude to the homeless; 
  • demonstrate resilience, flexibility and adaptability.

They are also expected to have knowledge of:

  • homeless legislation and code of guidance; 
  • the issues entailed in working with homeless people and the provision of emergency services; 
  • recording and presenting statistical data in a clear format; 
  • planning budgets;
  • organising rotas to ensure 24-hour staff cover.

Entry Requirements
Some entrants have a degree in housing, business studies, public administration or social sciences or a degree in Social Work.  A good general education with GCSEs A Grades in English and Mathematics can be sufficient if you have the relevant experience.  Many authorities accept mature applicants with experience rather than qualifications, for example through working with Shelter or women's refuges or in any community care capacity with substantial management responsibilities.  All the skills and knowledge outlined above would be considered essential attributes for entry to this post.  Knowledge of health and safety issues, the NHS and Community Care Act and the Children's Act would be helpful, as would experience of direct management including recruitment and selection.

Future Prospects & Opportunities
The next step up is Emergency Services Co-ordinator and there are opportunities in other areas of property/care management such as a Housing Needs Officer.  There are also opportunities to work in Housing Associations, or move across to other housing specialisms both within and outside the public sector.  Within social services, there are opportunities in community care work but further training and qualification in social work would be necessary.  This is a growing area where the demand for personnel often exceeds the supply.  It is a testing environment in which to work but there are structured professional development programmes and in-service training.

Further Information & Services
Asset Skills
Care Council for Wales
Chartered Management Institute
Community Care
Community Service Volunteers
Health & Care Professionals Council
Inside Housing
Institution of Occupational Health and Safety
Social Care Association

You may find further information about this area of work through Careers Wales ( or in your local library, careers office or school careers library.

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