Angela raises roof at housing awards


Birmingham City University student Angela Gilraine is celebrating after scooping the prestigious ‘Student of the Year’ award from the Chartered Institute of Housing.

Angela had worked in housing for 22 years as a caretaker and then a concierge when she embarked on a foundation degree in professional housing studies at Birmingham City University in 2007. She overcame a diagnosis of dyslexia and juggled full-time work, study and voluntary work with great success.

The Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) recognises one student each year who has achieved outstanding success despite having to face real challenges in their lives at the time of their study. Angela left school with one CSE and, despite struggling for most of her life with a lack of confidence in reading and spelling; she is the first person in her family to gain a degree.

Angela has had a yearning to support vulnerable people and, combining her academic studies with other interests, she carried out research into domestic abuse in same sex relationships. Working with West Midlands Police, the British Transport Police and others she raised awareness of the issue and worked to dispel taboos around reporting abuse through the ‘Unzip the Silence’ campaign.

Angela said: “Thank you to everyone who has supported me. Thanks to Birmingham City Council’s housing department for funding me to go to university and for all their ongoing support around training. Thanks to all the tutors and staff at Birmingham City University who realised there was a problem, this is when it was discovered I had severe dyslexia, and gave me the courage to carry on with my Foundation Degree.

“I would also like to say to anyone out there in housing - you are never too old to learn, and if I can do it so can you.”

Veronica Coatham, Head of Division of Housing and Community Studies and Programme Director, MA Housing, at Birmingham City University, said: “Angela worked very hard to achieve her foundation degree; she was always enthusiastic and determined to succeed. Her award is very well deserved.

“This is the third consecutive year a housing student from the University has won the Student of the Year Award and the fourth in five years. We are delighted to be recognised by the CIH for so many years.”

CIH President Paddy Gray congratulated Angela as she received a medal and a cheque for £200 at the CIH Presidential Dinner at the Natural History Museum in London on 9 February.

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