So, what do a blind former radio presenter and Scotland’s only blind letting agent have in common?…other than having no sight, absolutely nothing to be honest, other than that I happen to be both.
My name is Jill Barkley, I’ve worked in different aspects of the media over the last 20 years having my own daily show on a UK wide radio station and laterally I had my own Friday night show on BBC Radio Scotland, but I gave it all up to become a letting agent. why the massive career change, I hear you ask? …I guess I love a challenge.
I have been a type 1 diabetic practically all my life, having been diagnosed at the age of one and due to a condition called Diabetic Retinopathy, I lost my sight completely at the age of nineteen, in the space of 2 weeks.
As you can imagine, life suddenly posed a considerable challenge as I was plunged into darkness and the world, which was to become my oyster, suddenly became a tightly closed clam. I wondered, ‘what am I going to do with my life and how on earth am I going to go about it?’
I was pretty much told to go away, have a breakdown and then apply for a guide dog and then I would get a job tuning pianos, but being the belligerent madame that I am, I decided that that was not the way I wanted things to go, I was going to do something that I wanted to do with my life, the question was, what?
After a series of 9 hour eye operations and travelling all over Europe to meet leading eye surgeons, only to be told there was nothing they could do, I decided to stop chasing rainbows, pull up my big girl pants and embrace the fact that this was my new life, for the rest of my life and I am going to live it to the max.
Having walked into a job as cabin crew as a sighted person when I was eighteen, I was really shocked to find out how incredibly difficult it was to get a job as a blind person. I took myself back to college and university in an attempt to show future employers that I had the tenacity and determination to take on a career as a newly blind woman, but I found it a little soul destroying that prospective employers couldn’t see past the disability and would fob me off with, ‘but how would you get around the office?’
This only made me more determined to succeed and at the age of 40, having been a sound engineer, newspaper journalist, television producer and radio presenter and having achieved so much in the media, all without my sight, it was time for a new challenge and when the opportunity came about to start up a letting agency, with a fantastic team and having always loved property, I just knew that this was the next exciting chapter of my life beginning to unfold and Victoria Letting was born.
So fast forward 5 years and the business is going from strength to strength. Victoria Letting is an independent letting agency operating across central Scotland offering bespoke services in letting and property management, delivered by a professional and friendly team, drawing on a wealth of experience and local knowledge.
As a team, we look after in excess of 250 properties in areas such as Bearsden, Milngavie, Lenzie, Kirkintilloch, the south side, east end and westend of Glasgow, to name but a few.
Our Business Manager Annette has in excess of 20 years’ experience in the property field and to be frank, what she does not know about letting, isn’t worth knowing at all. Annette has been a fantastic mentor to me and I continue to learn from her every single day. Our owner and Director, Ian has been working in the industry for the last 6 years having come from Clyde Property and Property Manager Robert has vast experience and knowledge about the business having over 10 years experience in letting.
With regards to how I go about my daily business in terms of being blind, I am so fortunate that technology plays a big part in this for me. I have a talking computer that features screen reading software so everything I type is spoken back to me, I also use the accessibility function on my mobile phone so that I can access emails and phone calls while I am on the go. When I first lost my sight 26 years ago, I thought the technology available to me was amazing, but looking at what is available to me in this day and age, it now seems quite primitive and I am just so grateful that I am living in an era whereby I can keep up with my sighted counterparts due to the leaps and bounds that have been made in accessible technology for blind and partially sighted people.
As a company, Victoria Letting pride ourselves in having a fantastic working relationship with all our landlords and it is not uncommon for them to pop into the shop for a cuppa and a friendly chat whenever they are passing. We also have a strong team of contractors that are invaluable to us and on hand day and night to deal with any maintenance issues or emergencies and are extremely friendly and reliable.
It is also very important to us that we have a stringent vetting process when it comes to prospective tenants, giving our landlords the peace of mind that we do everything we can in our power to avoid problematic situations arising.
So where do Victoria Letting see ourselves in the next 5 years? Well it is over to you know. We are always striving to take on new landlords and new properties and we endeavour to look after your properties as if they were our own. Are you a landlord looking for a first class service from your letting agent? Are you thinking of becoming a landlord for the first time and need some advice? Are you thinking of changing your management service? Well why not pop into the shop and have a chat with our friendly team or give us a call on 0141 339 9292?
Incidentally, I may be blind, but it only makes me more determined to make sure that everything we do is head and shoulders above our competition…why not let me prove it to you?.
We look forward very much to meeting you in the future.