Grow Our Own programme provides the building blocks for a career in development

Following their completion of our Grow Our Own programme, Rachel Darlington and Luke Morris have been successful in securing full-time positions within the Development Team at Wales & West Housing Group (WWHG).

Rachel and Luke first joined the Grow Our Own programme in 2021. Their 2-year programme as Trainee Development Project Officers offered them an excellent opportunity to learn more about a career in development, spending time in all areas of the team to understand the planning, building and aftercare processes within our ambitious house building programme.

We recently caught up with our newest Development Officers to find out more about their experience on the graduate programme and how it helped to prepare them for their new roles within the WWHG.

What attracted you to apply to the Grow Our Own programme and did it meet your expectations?

Rachel: After finishing university, I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do afterwards. I knew I wanted to do something relevant to my degree in planning, and a friend advised to apply for the Trainee Development Project Officer role with WWHG. It has met my expectations and given me great experiences to develop my career as a Development Officer further.

The initial job listing was very informative, detailing the ins and outs of the comprehensive training programme and highlighting the diverse learning opportunities within the company. It placed an emphasis on personal development, which certainly held true during my time as a trainee.

In what ways did the Grow Our Own programme help to prepare you for your current position?

Rachel: The graduate programme helped me prepare for my permanent job as Development Officer, by gaining experience working with my colleagues and learning about the development process. My team have been really supportive throughout my graduate programme helping me to prepare for the future.

Luke: The Grow Our Own programme offered numerous chances for learning and personal development, helping to establish the robust knowledge base essential for my present position. It exposed me to different aspects of the business, helping me foster an understanding of how the broader WWHG operates together.

What is your favourite memory of your time on the Grow Our Own programme?

Rachel: My favourite memory of the Grow Our Own programme has definitely been meeting other graduates and making connections with other departments. I really enjoyed the Grow Our Own away days, visiting the North and West offices. It was a really great way to get to know each other.

Luke: The Grow Our Own days in Cardiff were great fun and really informative. It was always fantastic to catch up with others on the programme who were in the same boat as me. Carly and Sue from the Careers Team consistently organised engaging activities that pushed us out of our comfort zones and encouraged us to challenge our ideas, which also helped bring us all together.

What has been your personal highlight of working at WWHG?

Rachel: My personal highlight of working at WWHG has been visiting residents in their properties to find out what matters to them and whether they are enjoying living in their homes. It was a positive experience for me as our residents are at the heart of what we do.

Luke: One of the major highlights of my time here has been the connections I’ve forged. I’ve not only built strong friendships within my team but also established meaningful relationships across the entire organisation, which makes working here a pleasure.

Would you recommend the Grow Our Own programme to other graduates looking to start their career and why?

Rachel: I would definitely recommend the Grow Our Own programme to other graduates! Wales & West Housing are a great company to work for and during the graduate programme I have really felt a valued member of the organisation.

Luke: I would highly recommend it to others. It has served as an excellent foundation for my career, enabling me to expand my knowledge and progressively take on more responsibilities. Throughout the programme, I’ve always had a strong support network which has given me confidence that I know where to turn if any issues arise.

Throughout their time on the Grow Our Own programme, trainees embark upon a fully bespoke training programme designed to expand their skillset to help in preparing them for their future careers. All graduates are also given the chance to visit a selection of our properties and development sites to provide them with an insight into the work that we do at WWHG to better the lives of our residents and to make a difference to our local communities. Find out more about the programme by visiting:

Hannah Martin

PR & Communications Trainee