Social research consultant Helen Bidwell meets everyone from drug users to local residents – but, as yet, no celebrities.
What does Vision 21 do?

  Any sort of social research, from public consultations on urban regeneration schemes to conducting surveys on street drinkers. We've done work for a number of prestigious clients including Urban Splash, Kensington New Deal for Communities and Crisis.

What's your typical day?

  "Typical" is the last word I would use to describe my day. I might be training former drug users to help in research programmes in the morning and working with residents on a public consultation exercise for Kensington New Deal in the afternoon. With regeneration schemes, we sometimes train local residents how to take part in public meetings, how to get to grips with the jargon surrounding planning and how to get their views across.

How did you get into the planning sector?

  I've always been interested in the social side of geography – people, places and how they work together. For my sins, this directed me towards town planning. I worked on regeneration projects at Taylor Young and this encouraged me to specialise in community consultation.

What's the most unusual thing that has happened to you at work?

   My second day in the job started with a very glamorous photo shoot for some marketing brochures for the company, taken in Manchester's northern quarter. In the afternoon I was sent out in the rain to do a door-to-door survey on public attitudes to drug misuse and possible solutions.

What's the best thing about your job?

  A number of things, ranging from the people (hi boss!) and the constantly varying workload to the fact that many of our clients actually say thank you for the work we produce for them.

What's the worst thing?

  The world outside my office – Manchester City Centre – is far too tempting. I worked in a leafy Cheshire suburb called Cheadle before where there were fewer temptations. What with the shops and the pubs here, it's having a very detrimental effect on my bank balance.

Have you met anyone famous through your work?

  Not even a footballer. Vision 21 has a number of prestigious clients, such as Tom Bloxham, who I wouldn't mind having a chat with.

What do you do to relax?

  I like to take a five-minute gander out of our office window and watch the trials and tribulations taking place on Tib Street, where we're based.

What do you see yourself doing in 10 years' time?

  I've given up on the idea of becoming a lion tamer. I would like to develop a division of Vision 21 with a specific focus on regeneration and engaging the community in the development process.

Would you encourage your friends to get a job in construction?

   Yes. I would definitely say they'd get a lot of satisfaction out of a career in this field. I've been very lucky with the places I've worked in. Whether you enter the industry as a town planner or a building surveyor, there are a huge number of areas to specialise in.

How old are you? 26 Current job Research consultant for Vision 21, a Manchester-based social research and public consultation company Employment history Straight out of university, I took a job as planning assistant in the urban design and town planning department of multidisciplinary practice Taylor Young. I joined Vision 21 in August this year Qualifications BSc (Hons) in environmental planning, a diploma in town and regional planning, member of Royal Town Planning Institute Lives Chorlton, Manchester Salary Between £15 000 and £20 000 Drives Renault Clio Family Single