James Kerr

James joined Keystage Housing in 2019 having been the events manager at Carnival Arts Centre in Luton, where he was responsible for putting on a variety of events for the community. The skills he honed in this role – leadership, organisational and people skills, resourcefulness, communication and problem solving, stood him in good stead for his role at Keystage Housing.

James looks after over 200 units within the Keystage portfolio; from their entry sites at HARRP Luton, to the HMO properties or individual flats across the three counties. James is responsible for ensuring that every room is ready for its new inhabitant: making them welcoming and comfortable, safe and homely. Not only that, he also manages a team that sources donations from across the community as well as ensuring that all health and safety protocols across all sites are upheld.

James is dedicated to his team and to the people who live at the sites. He spends an hour a week with every service user, making sure they are feeling settled and on track with their pathway. “We genuinely do whatever it takes to help those who come to us. It’s important to show people you have the time for them and to use this time to get to know them. It’s not just about “doing your job”. For me, it’s about listening to people and getting to know them as a person. I also think that ‘a joke goes a long way’, and so I always try to have a laugh. Some people haven’t laughed in a long time. It’s amazing how it can lighten a moment, make us all feel good and, importantly, create a personal connection.”

James’ hopes for Keystage mirror the ambitions of the company – to help more people by providing more homes. “No one grows up wanting to be homeless. It’s often a series of events that puts them on the streets. And it can happen to any of us. That’s why the work we are doing is so important – everyone deserves a warm bed and a shower at the end of the day. I know that if I found myself on the streets, I would love someone from Keystage to come up to me and say ‘we’re here to help – come on, come with us’.

Of the Keystage ethos, James says: “We treat people how we would want to be treated. There is no pity, there is only support and an understanding ear. We will help you to help yourself – but we need you to want to help yourself. To help you do this, we find out what it is people want out of life, and we build upon that. We guide them, we do not tell them what to do. We want people to feel in control of their life. And we want them to have respect for themselves and for those around them. That is key to any positive journey.”

When James was asked how he would sum up Keystage, he replied: “We may provide housing, but we are a people business at the end of the day. Whatever we do, we treat everyone as a fellow human, with dignity and respect.”


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