We stopped to chat to Ryan, our Military Matters manager, to find out a bit more about his role, as the service looks back on another successful year.


What was your background before coming to Housing Options Scotland?

I first started working for HOS back in 2013.  At that time, I had already worked for a local housing association in Glasgow and Housing training organisation, as well as studying in housing.  I was quite immersed in housing but had only been working in the sector for two and a half years.  I’ve had two spells at HOS so that was my first spell, I then went on to spend some time with Blackwood Homes and Care and with SSAFA – Glasgow’s Helping Heroes, working with service leavers and the Armed Forces community before coming back to manage the Military Matters service.


Tell me about your role and what you do

I manage our Military Matters service so I work closely with the team – Tessa, Gina and Tony.  My job is very varied. It involves working directly with clients, giving presentations to organisations, writing funding bids and also working closely with other organisations supporting the Armed Forces Community in Scotland.  That could be organisations that are part of the Veterans Scotland housing group or working alongside one of the veterans housing providers.  I also get the chance to go into the bases and speak to those that are still serving to highlight their housing options and help  them to plan their transition into civilian life.


What do you think are some of the challenges faced by our clients that you work with?

I think the housing crisis in general is a real challenge for everybody.  Supply is nowhere near meeting demand which is really difficult.  But that’s why knowing what options are out there and how to explore those options is so important.  A great example of that is social renting. It’s in really high demand due to the low rents, the great repairs service that you get, the fact it’s a home for life.  People can aspire to live in social rented housing, but it can be hard to find the social housing providers that operate in the areas that you want to live and applying can be complex.  That’s where we can really help, but it’s a challenge for a lot of our clients.


What would be your Christmas wish for our Military Matters clients to make things easier for them?

I think for our service leavers and veterans a common housing application that means they could apply to every provider in Scotland on one application would be amazing, it would make a big difference.  It’s incredibly difficult to achieve, I know it’s been looked at quite a few times in the past but if I had one wish that’s what it would be.


Tell me about any little quirks about the way we work at HOS that works for you

The flexible working is something I’ve always appreciated at HOS.  I’ve now got four kids at home so having flexible working means I never have to miss a school play, I never have to miss a parents evening or any  family event.  I know lots of other parents that have had to miss a sports day due to their job whereas for us, it’s flexible, we can do our work remotely and base it around family life.  It’s something I’ll always be grateful for as I’ll never have to look back and feel sorry that I missed something.


Where have you lived?

In Scotland I’ve only ever lived in Glasgow but I lived in America for a while in a little area called Edgewater, Maryland.  A peninsula surrounded by water with speedboats, kayaking, horse riding, tennis courts.  Summers were wall to wall sunshine but it was a huge shift from where I’d lived in the East End of Glasgow.  And I missed Glasgow every single day.  From growing up in a concrete jungle and thinking I wanted to get away and then as soon as I was away I missed everything.  I loved my time abroad but it helped me see that I love where I live and where I’m from.


Describe your favourite home that you’ve lived in

My favourite  home is the flat that I grew up in.  It was a 3-bed flat with my parents, myself and my brother.  We were a stone’s throw away from a golf course, the local football park, the swimming pool.   Glasgow city centre was three stops on the bus.  So, we’d pretty much everything on our doorstep.  The East End of Glasgow was an amazing place to grow up as a kid, an area that sometimes gets a bad reputation but it was amazing.  The close door was really our front door and every door inside that was left open.  So, If I got in from school and my mum and dad weren’t  home, I’d go in to one of the neighbours homes for my dinner.  As a kid it felt like so much fun.  I sometimes feel like my own kids miss out on that feeling of community.


What makes a house a home for you?

The feeling of safety.  Not just physical safety but also a safe space.  Somewhere you can close the door and be with your family, playing board games, putting up the Christmas tree.  Somewhere everyone can just be themselves.  When you have older kids there’s a lot of things that aren’t cool to do in public with your family anymore, but when  you’re home everyone can just be themselves.


What is your favourite thing about working for HOS?

The people  I get to work with on a day to day basis. From the staff team, to board members and associates to volunteers.  Everybody is here because they care.They might have come to HOS for different reasons but they stay because they care about what they do.  And that makes it an incredible place to work.


Tell me about some things you get up to outside of work

I’ve got a big family at home, we have three kids of our own and we foster too.  We are a very active family.  If I’m not working I’ll be at the side of a badminton court or a football park or out walking, playing wheelchair tennis, playing board games, watching movies.  But in the last few years I have tried to carve out some time for myself and there’s two things I’m doing.  Learning to play the guitar and reading. Reading is something we do as a family but now I’m reading a bit for myself too. I don’t have much spare time though, so I’m only reading books that I’ve read before so I can pick a book I know I’m going to enjoy.


What are you working on next at HOS?

The next big thing is going to be the 10 year anniversary of MM in March.  We’ve got a task and finish group together, including some board members, working on the planning for that – the agenda, the invites and getting things ready for March next year. Can’t wait!