Women at Peabody

We are recognising the incredible women across our organisation who are making a difference to our colleagues, residents and communities.

Published: 08/03/2022

International Women’s Day celebrates the social, economic, cultural and political successes of women across the world. To celebrate this day, we are recognising some of the incredible women at Peabody.

Toni Argyle manages two of our large cleaning contracts, looking after 800 estates in London & Essex. 

Toni works with our contractors to ensure the estates are maintained properly. She visits estate weekly and liaises with local authorities to remove waste and recycling, and works closely with residents to ensure their issues are resolved quickly.

Toni said: “I love my job and I really enjoy it. I have good working relationships with our contractors, and I enjoy making sure they are doing what they are supposed to do. I like going out to sites throughout the week and meeting our residents.

“I would get encourage anyone to get involved in frontline roles. You get a good satisfaction at the end of the day that you have done a good job. I follow our residents’ concerns from start to finish, I want to make sure they are happy. You have to be on the ball with 800 sites to take care of.

“I would tell all women to believe in yourself. People assume working with contractors and in housing is all men. Women can do contract management just as well as men. When I got this role, I was really nervous and it took a me a good few months to get to know the sites and the contractors. Now when I log off everyday, I know I have done a good job.”

Keji Imafidon is a Project Manager in the Business Change team. She is leading on projects aimed at improving our ways of working, so that we can be a more productive and efficient organisation.

Keji worked for the NHS for 12 years before deciding she wanted a change and found her perfect fit at Peabody.

Keji said: “Here at Peabody there’s a lot more flexibility in how we approach the work and I get to see projects through from start to finish. I also love the variety and of course being able to work with people across the business.

“At the moment I’m working on our better ways of working programme and I’m keen to be involved in more change projects – things like culture change and System integration and making better use of data – I’m anticipating that a lot of this will be coming up as part of our merger with Catalyst so I hope this will keep me busy!”

Sharon Hanks helps patients at Colchester Hospital in Essex who are ready to leave but don’t have a suitable home to go to, or who need help applying for benefits and finding work.

She works closely with the hospital teams and other organisations to make sure people get the right support. Since she started in October, Sharon has already prevented eight people from leaving hospital without a home.

“One of my customers couldn’t tell me if he had any income, so I offered to visit his home and get his letters,” said Sharon.

“It was soon clear that he had no gas or electricity. His home was freezing, and the bed was mouldy. There was food on the surfaces and clutter everywhere. I gathered his letters, and we went through them together. There were several debt letters, and one saying his pension had been suspended. His unopened letters dated back to the summer.”

“When I got his pension going again, he received a back-payment of £19,750. He used this money to clear his debt. I also helped him set up a direct debit for the bills, buy a TV licence, get a new bed, and hire a cleaner. I got the gas uncapped and put credit on his meters, so everything was up and running for when he went home.”

Ash Fox has recently taken on the role of designate Deputy Chief Executive and will be leading on innovation at Peabody, learning from other sectors and organisations and embedding new ways of working, such as our new locality model.

Ash said: “When I first moved into operations, I was told in an interview, this isn’t a job where you ‘can wear a pretty dress’ as I'd ‘have to get my hands dirty like the guys on the team’. That was 13 years ago, and I'm sorry I didn’t call it out at the time. I didn’t get that job but got a more junior role and worked my way up. I used it as a learning experience and a chance to prove myself, but others might rightly have been put off by this.

“Since then, what I've learnt about equality, diversity and inclusion (ED&I) is that you can’t be passive – you must be active. Not everyone thinks about it in the same way as you do, so you have to support and nurture others to develop their own attitudes.”

Ella Rayment is our Community Programme Coordinator for King Edwards Community Centre in Essex
. Ella said, “I’ve been working here for seven years now. I really like my job and being able to help residents and community groups. It’s so nice to see the centre buzzing and full again after closing during the lockdowns - a lot of our groups and older residents really missed each other. Hearing all the ladies laughing is how it should be!

I'm part of an all-female team. It’s good to acknowledge the great women in our lives – in work and in our families and friendships. I think the best thing that people can do is be open and not make presumptions, especially around women and the job role they do, have or might want.

Sharon Barbour manages our Community Development programmes in Essex and joined Peabody 28 years ago. She also volunteers in destitute communities in Kenya and recently wrote a book called the Bereavement Journey to support people through grief.

Sharon said, "I enjoy what I do. I’m very much community-based. Every day is different, I get up, and I wonder what’s going to happen, who am I going to meet?

I started as a part-time outreach worker and I still go back to Vicarage Lane 28 years later! I ran our after school youth clubs and youth services. Having a person on the ground is really important - I’m an adult, young people can call and I can advocate for them. That’s what youth work is about, supporting young people - they may not be right, but you’re offering opportunities to them.

Now I manage our Community Development programmes in Essex. We run a whole host of community activities and build up local partnerships that complement our work.

International Women's Day is an opportunity to come together, hear what other women are talking about, share stories and connect with each other. This year’s theme is breaking the bias, and everyone suffers from a bit of bias – class, race, gender, disability, belief system. I don’t know how easy it is to break that because we’re all coming from different experiences and journeys. I won’t say that the first steps are having the conversation because we always have the conversation - the first steps should be quite radical.

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