Punk Simon Harris starts at believe housing in Social Value role

Meet Simon Harris – not the Irish PM but believe housing’s new recruit 

A tenant who feared his punk look and years away from employment, caring for his partner, would prevent him from finding a job has landed a role with believe housing. 

Former freight worker Simon Harris gave up his job at Newcastle Airport, where he was a DHL station manager, 17 years ago to become his partner Sylvia’s fulltime carer. 

Sadly, Sylvia passed away in October 2023. 

After deciding to return to employment, Simon was “made up with the opportunity” after being offered his first ever admin role with landlord believe housing. 

The six-month position was offered exclusively to tenants with no prior administrative experience, which could have been a barrier to applying for other jobs.   

Simon feared his striking look, including red mohawk hair and tattoos, could also have deterred potential employers from hiring him. 

He said: “I’ve been a punk since I was nine but I had bills to pay, so I used to look like everybody else. 

“When I became my partner’s carer, I had the freedom to look the way I want. 

“I thought I’d have longer with Sylvia so never envisaged going back to work, and I never imagined myself in an office job.  

“I was a little bit worried about people judging me but was really surprised how accepting everyone at believe housing is.  

“I’m really made up with the opportunity.” 

As a Social Value Administrator with believe housing’s Procurement Team, Simon helps to ensure contractors and suppliers have a meaningful positive impact in communities across County Durham and on the local economy.  

“The role suits me exactly.  

“It fits with my belief in giving something back — the punk community in this region does a lot of fundraising. 

“And part-time flexible working, with lots of learning and plenty of support, means starting something completely new doesn’t feel like being thrown in the deep end.  

“If I can come into an office environment, I think anybody can and I think it’s brilliant that believe housing is such an inclusive employer and is finding different ways to support tenants,” he added. 

believe housing is part of the Housing Employment Network North East (HENNE), which is a collaborative initiative by social housing providers in the region to improve employability support and job opportunities for tenants and residents.  

Simon’s role was created as part of the innovative New Start scheme, which was developed by HENNE partners to provide tailored opportunities for candidates to get a foot in the door with the support of local businesses. 

It is one of five New Start roles at believe housing that have been funded by the UK Shared Prosperity Fund – Government funding allocated to Durham County Council to support communities, places, businesses, people and skills.