Hello, my name’s Joella

Joella 2

Hello, I’m Joella and I joined Action Homeless four years ago and during this time I have worked across most services. My current role is Support and Engagement Manager, within this role I work with a range of teams to provide high quality services to our clients across Action Homeless.

The Support and Engagement service (Commissioned) works across (but is not limited to) three projects which are situated across the city of Leicester providing accommodation and support to 45 clients. This service supports clients who have varying support needs, clients within the support and Engagement service are supported to access a mixture of services and to obtain sustainable accommodation.

As well as managing the Support and Engagement Service I also manage The Duty Desk, No Second Night Out County, The Light Project and Engage.

I don’t really have a normal day, but I do have several different things that I have to do in a week. I attend the Multi-Disciplinary Team meeting (MDT) which creates solutions for clients with complex needs in partnership with services across the city of Leicester. I also host the Support and Engagement team meeting and AA link meeting; work with the Light Project, through which medical students from Leicester University give our residents health advice; as well as overseeing the move in and out of commissioned clients and No Second Night Out County clients.

It’s always very interesting and I love my job, but it can be complex at times. When you’re in a difficult situation you must be highly organised, logical and very solution focussed.

As well as my day job, I’m currently studying Business Management and Leadership at Loughborough University. I go for two days a week every other month and although it’s challenging I find it really interesting. I like that I’m able to apply what I learn to my job.

I think that you need interests outside of work to keep yourself balanced. I play netball twice a week and enjoy walking with my dog. I think it’s important to be able to switch off at the end of the day. Some of the things which you encounter in this job can be really emotionally tough so you need to give yourself some distance.

Without a doubt the worst part of my job is seeing an individual leave our service negatively. Regardless of the reason for the eviction, that person still needs help and support.

My favourite part of the job is the people I get to meet and the things I get to experience with them and that’s not changed since the day I started. I feel very lucky.

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Hello, my name’s Annette

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I started volunteering for Action Homeless in 1996 and have been employed since 1997. A lot’s changed in the time that I’ve been here and when I first started we mainly supported older people. I managed the Hollies with my colleague Debbie which is a move on project from our main hostel Mayfield House, where continued support is given to people to help them achieve independent living. Back then it was staffed all the time, we provided a full catering service and people could stay for quite a long time. The biggest change that I’ve seen is the increase in numbers of young people we support. Although I do remember it being scary when they first brought in computers!

You always go the extra mile and support people to the best of your ability but clients are sometimes reluctant to engage and that can be really challenging. I love seeing people go out the other side though and knowing that I’ve had a part to play to get them to a good place. I’ve had people come and visit me after they’ve moved on and that’s always really lovely.

I’m currently based at Mayfield House but I’ve worked across all the projects in my time here. A normal day for me can be quite varied but it usually consists of booking clients in and out of the hostel, collecting rents, completing room checks and monitoring the building, listening to residents and assisting them with any issues they have, and updating records. I also do sleep-in shifts and deal with referrals or issues after working hours. Crucially, I’m always here if a client or another staff member needs me.

The hardest thing about my job is when you see the same people come round the system, as this makes you question whether there was something that we could have done differently. Things are getting better though and this is happening less and less often now.

Highlights? Well, there’s been a few. When we first started having the Residents’ Christmas Parties, that was a good thing and they’ve created a lot of happy memories over the years. I also think of one particular man who we supported at the Hollies a long time ago. He got cancer and I attended all his appointments with him at the Royal Infirmary. When he was ready to move on, we managed to get him a property not too far from the Hollies so he popped in if he felt he needed to. The last time I saw him, he was eight years clear. To know that I’d been able to assist him through everything that he’d experienced was really good. Action Homeless has been the best job I’ve ever had and I’m just so pleased that I’m still a part of it.

 

Hello, my name’s Yogi

David Weight Action Homeless Houses August 2015 55 - Yogi edited

My name’s Yogi and I work for Action Trust, Action Homeless’ social enterprise. I’ve been doing this job since 2012 and I’m currently employed as a Cleaning and Maintenance Operative.

I do external cleaning jobs for Action Trust and I’m contracted to clean Norton House properties. Norton House is a charity in Leicester which provides supported accommodation for people with mental health problems and they do a really good job. I usually clean about six or seven houses a day, so I’m pretty busy. I enjoy my job and I feel very lucky that I’m able to meet so many different people.

I have a lot of responsibility because it’s usually just me doing the jobs, so I need to make sure everything is cleaned to a high standard. I have a good relationship with the staff at Norton House and when I’ve finished I always check in the office to see whether they’re happy with everything – they always are!

I also clean offices, do my colleague Pete’s job if he’s busy doing something else and pick up extra work when the other cleaners are on holiday. It can sometimes be tricky to manage the extra jobs that I get; I must balance my time and make sure I get everything done properly. Without a doubt though, the biggest challenge is the early mornings – I get up at 5 every day and sometimes it can be a real struggle!

I get on well with everyone at Action Homeless and I like working with the Action Trust team – they’re a good bunch of guys.

Hello, my name’s Jessica

Jessica

Hello, my name’s Jessica and I’m a Support and Engagement Officer at Action Homeless. I have a caseload of about fifteen clients who I help with their support needs, housing and move on. When I first meet a client we create a support plan which is then addressed every six weeks. The plan covers things like substance misuse, offending and mental health so they are personalised and specific to the client’s needs.

The role can be really challenging and I often deal with crisis situations. You can have your whole day planned but a situation will come up and you have to drop everything to address it. It’s really varied and no two days are the same. Clients can be unpredictable and are sometimes reluctant to engage with services but that’s just part of the job. Lots of the clients we support have had very traumatic experiences and are often distrusting of services, so I have to establish a level of trust and encourage them to engage.

It can be really rewarding, especially when someone makes changes to their life and moves on. Sometimes people will have been going round the hostel system for years, so making a step towards independence is hugely significant for them.

It’s really important to be open minded and non-judgemental. Although a client may sound challenging in paper, the progress they can make towards independence is enormous. It’s always nice when someone is grateful for what you’ve done for them and I’ve received some really lovely cards from clients when they’ve moved into their own homes.

Some of the cases we get are really hard. You do get desensitised but I suppose it shows that you’re still human when you’re shocked by what people have been through. You must have empathy for the clients. It’s nice when you’re able to do normal things with the clients, like when you go out for coffee after an appointment. They have enough people dictating to them and sometimes they just need a friend.

Marathon training diary – 13 weeks

Olivia

Last week was the thirteen week mark and although the training has upped slightly, it’s still fairly gentle. I did three short runs again (two two miles and a three mile one), went swimming once and went for a long walk. The runs are definitely getting easier and I can now run three miles pretty comfortably. I’m also enjoying going swimming because it’s helping to increase my stamina and gives my joints a break from the running. I did a “strength training” session for the first time this week which basically meant following some core and leg exercises on YouTube for about 20 minutes – it was tougher than I’d thought it would be but it’ll get easier.

I do struggle to motivate myself to go running, which isn’t helped by the torrential rain we’ve had over the last few weeks. Where has summer gone? I’m not a natural runner so I really need to make sure I keep up with my training. I’m sure that if I follow my training programme over the next twelve weeks though, then it’ll all be fine on the day.

If you’re an expert runner and have any tips then we’d love to hear them, just email oliviapaine@actionhomeless.org.uk. Alternatively, if you’re struggling to know what to do, this is the training plan I’ve been using:

http://womensrunning.competitor.com/2013/09/training-tips/couch-to-half-marathon-training-plan_15065/3

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Marathon training diary – 14 weeks

Olivia

There’s now just fourteen weeks to go until the Leicester Marathon (scary huh?) and I feel like there is a long way to go before I will be anywhere near ready to run thirteen miles – THIRTEEN MILES! For the last few months I’ve just been telling myself that it’ll be fine and part of me genuinely believed that to be true. Now we’re just a few months away though, I’m very aware that thirteen miles is an extremely long way to run and that race day will come around very quickly.

Despite all my enthusiasm and hard work when I first signed up for the half marathon, over the last few months I’ve let my training slip to the bottom of my priorities and have barely been running at all. Because of this I’m now following a strict fourteen week plan which will hopefully get me fit enough to run at the very least most of the race.

Sadly after all my efforts to build up to running five miles I’m now back at square one and had to ease myself in this week with a few short runs. I ran two miles on both Monday and Tuesday, went swimming on Wednesday and plan to carry on over the weekend with a three mile run on Saturday and a long, brisk walk on Sunday. According to my plan I’m meant to start off with three easy runs a week, a cross training session and a walk. I will gradually increase the distance and frequency of my runs over the next fourteen weeks, eventually reaching thirteen miles on race day. I’m also meant to add in a strength training session from week three which sounds slightly intimidating at the moment.

I’m hoping that if I keep up with my plan and train regularly then I will be able to do the half-marathon when October 25th comes around. Over the next fourteen weeks I will be posting weekly training updates which I hope will encourage other marathon runners, or at least make them feel less stressed about their training.

If you’d like to run the marathon for Action Homeless then we’d love to have you on our team. There’s still time to start training if you’re a complete beginner so just email me at oliviapaine@actionhomeless.org.uk and ask for an application form. Happy running!

Marathon 2013

 

 

Hello, my name’s Margaret

Margaret cropped

Hello, I’m Margaret and I’m the Coordinator for Bridge House Refuge. Where do I start to describe my role? I’ve been at Bridge House for thirteen years and I think it’s fair to say that I’ve enjoyed it. I like my work and I find it very rewarding. I enjoy working with other women; not just physically helping them when they are fleeing domestic violence, but also supporting them with the other issues that they face like supporting  to build their self esteem and increase their confidence.

I’m a very mothering figure and I love having the children around. I like knowing that they’re in a warm environment where they can try to forget about what has been  going on around them or the things they have witnessed. Bridge House is a good place for children and they’re always happy here. It’s great having Amanda to do activities with them and you can really see them develop whilst they are here.

I enjoy lots of thing about my job and I particularly like working with the families when they are reunited or the mums move on with their lives and start new relationships. I like seeing how the men interact with the children and one case of a family particularly sticks in my mind. When they became homeless the mum and little girl came to live at Bridge House and the dad stayed in another one of Action Homeless’ projects. The daughter Amelia is quite a shy little girl anyway but when she was at Bridge House she became very withdrawn and missed her dad a lot; it was wonderful when we were able to find them a family home and they were all back together again. I think people have the perception that I don’t like working with men but that’s just not true; I think it’s really important to find good male role models for children in society.

A normal day for me can be quite varied but my role mainly consists of processing referrals and working with the women. All of the women at Bridge House will have suffered domestic violence in some form so I spend a lot of my time listening to them talk about their experiences and helping them to deal with their trauma. In my previous job I worked in the community which dealt with very severe instances of domestic violence. Fortunately I’ve never had a case like that at Bridge House but domestic violence and domestic abuse is always awful. The emotional and mental trauma which results from domestic violence can make people mentally ill and often people don’t recognise the mental health problems which are associated with domestic violence.

My job can be difficult because women cope with domestic violence in very different ways and they have all had different experiences. I must work with each individual on an individual basis. There is no one cap fits all solution when it comes to dealing with domestic violence.

When I get home each night I summarise my day. I’m not very good with names but I think about each person I’m supporting and make a list of who I need to get in touch with the next day. I think it’s important to reflect on your day because then you can self-assess. It’s just me working at Bridge House on the women’s cases so I have to make sure all interventions are as clear as possible, making reflection more important than ever. I also have a lot of cases so I find that summarising everything means that I can leave it for the night and get on with it the next day.

An important part of my job is helping the women to make their own choices and ensuring that they do what’s right for them. I sit down with them and explore the different options they have available. It’s crucial that I listen to what they want. It’s their life and I have no hidden agenda; I also work to create a dialogue between different people and especially with outside agencies. It’s about creating trust. When I work with the women I think it’s important for them to know that they need to put in what they want to get out. They need to take responsibility for their own future, especially because they’ve come out of a domestic violence setting where they have been so powerless.

I think the best thing about my job is that I can just be myself. I believe that you should treat everyone the same way no matter what – we’re all human beings. If I do that one thing then I can live with myself.

I must be honest when I’m working with the women and be sure that I don’t offer them any false hopes. The key focus of my job is to help the women get what they want, so I must be flexible and work with their individual needs. What people don’t often realise is that a refuge is a positive and celebratory space; it’s not a space to grieve. Bridge House is a place for new beginnings, it’s a fresh start. It’s amazing to see what the women can achieve after what they’ve experienced. I’m always so pleased when they move on because it’s great for them and their families. In this job I can’t take rewards for myself because the women have been through so much. Any rewards are theirs.

I always try to smile because I want people to feel welcome when they arrive at Bridge House. My role is challenging because I’m constantly meeting new people who have experienced domestic violence and I must find the inner strength to support them. Domestic violence is very challenging and what is particularly difficult is empowering the women to believe that they are able to achieve their goals. As well as the support which I give to them, the women also have counselling to help them come to terms with their trauma. The women soon realise that they’re not on their own but that they are surrounded by women who have had similar experiences and are there for them.

I manage Amanda, our Children’s Services Coordinator and support her because she’s not come from a domestic violence background. I work to ensure that she knows what’s going on and can handle situations which arise when I’m not there. It’s great having Amanda at Bridge because she allows the mums to have one-to-one time with me.

I often find that when mums have experienced domestic violence it can be really difficult for them because they think they have upset their children. Amanda works to bring out the happy side in their children and also helps to strengthen their relationships with their mums. You can really see the change after the families have been here for a few weeks. I love working in such a homely environment, especially when there are children around. Happy children make you feel energised and joyful yourself.