Jon Quinn, a London Met graduate, is currently the Head of Campaigns at housing charity Shelter.
Date: 6 February 2015
After a 14 years working in politics, Jon Quinn, a History and Politics graduate from London Guildhall University, a predecessor institution of London Met, moved to the housing charity Shelter.
“I am really passionate about housing. I think it is outrageous that in 2015 there are people who live in really bad housing or have none.
“Housing affects a person in so many ways. It is not just the physical roof over your head but your mental health as well. It affects your whole life and I think it is pretty fundamental. At Shelter I can make a positive difference and that is why I really enjoy my job,” Jon said.
Like many Londoners, Jon himself has had several poor experiences renting in the private sector. Poor conditions, a lack of security and mould are frequent problems faced by renters in the capital.
“Some of the stories are pretty out there - situations that you wouldn't even begin to think about,” says Jon.
“Some people who are renting are being evicted from their home with no notice because the boiler has broken down and they asked for it to be fixed. That’s just fundamentally wrong and those are just some of the regular stories, there are much worse situations.”
Since joining Shelter, a charity that campaigns on homelessness and poor housing conditions in England, Jon has seen some change in the attitudes around housing.
The public sees the housing as ‘a much bigger issue’ now than they did five years ago, which Jon thinks is great.
“I feel that I have made a personal contribution, as I have been able to use my political insight and re-purpose the campaign focussing it in a different way, which is showing results now,” he said.
“My profession is to help people overcome difficult situations every day which makes me very lucky.
“But when you hear a particularly harrowing story it does play in your mind. You sometimes can’t help but take some of it home with you at the end of the day,” Jon said.
Just this Christmas, for example, 93,000 children in Britain woke up in temporary accommodation – in places like hostels – on Christmas morning.
“Some of these places are not nice. There are no houses for them to go and you do think of those families sometimes when you are at home with your family.
“One of the things I have always had in my career is the desire to deliver change and to try to make life better for people. In terms of housing, we have a big challenge, but we do make a difference,” Jon said.
London Met provided the opportunity
London Met is focused on creating opportunities for students to get their career started after their studies. Jon does a lot of recruiting for Shelter himself and emphasises the importance of experience when he hires staff on starting level positions.
During his final year at the University, Jon secured a dissertation project with William Hague’s office, who at that time was the Leader of the Opposition. The placement started his career in politics, which has been valuable experience for his work at Shelter.
“Have a party and have a good time at university, but make sure you have something that will stand out when you start applying for work afterwards as well.
“My London Met degree helped me a lot and certainly opened the possibility to get work experience and my foot in the ladder. You can have all the qualifications in the world, but it is experience the employers are looking for and having that built in my degree made a massive difference,” Jon said.
But it was not only experience London Met had to offer: “What I liked was the variety and range of different people, backgrounds and stories that you learn a lot from and take a lot out of”, said Jon.
“That diversity makes it far more interesting and that has helped me in my career as well.”
You can find out more about studying Politics at London Met.