Staff Q&A: Wellbeing Support Worker

During this uncertain time, the services offered by Emmanuel House Support Centre are more important than ever. We spoke to our team to find out how Coronoavirus has impacted their clients and the work they do with them. Below, our Senior Support Worker at the Nottingham Night Shelter explains how her role has changed and how we are responding to the pandemic.

Job Title: Wellbeing Support Worker

How my job has changed during the crisis: My role as part of the Wellbeing Team has changed dramatically as we can no longer offer our normal Outreach support in terms of face to face contact. I still contact everyone on my caseload regularly via phone/text/WhatsApp/email, whatever works best for them. It has been much harder to provide emotional support this way but it is even more important now as it’s vital to keep in touch due to the effect isolation is having on people’s Mental Health.

My work at the hotel: I now work at the hotel twice a week which I really enjoy; ensuring that rough sleepers and those who were using our night shelter have a safe place to stay. We are able to make sure that guests are still able to receive all the support they need to access from available services like Healthcare, benefits, addiction services and probation.

My remote working: I work from home the rest of the week which gives me time to contact all of my caseload. Some are struggling with no longer being able to use communal spaces where they live in a hostel etc and have found it difficult not being around people. Keeping boredom at bay is really important for my caseload, so I have been suggesting activities which help to reduce anxiety and keep people occupied.

My biggest challenge: The biggest challenge I have faced is supporting individuals who have expressed suicidal thoughts. When someone is struggling with their Mental Health anyway, having most of their coping strategies taken away from them, whether this is addiction support groups or volunteering, has a massive impact. Trying to fill this void with limited resources is a real challenge. Sometimes people have just wanted me to listen for half an hour about their struggles during lockdown and if I can I will offer advice or tell them where they can get the info they need. I have been able to alert the appropriate services when I am worried about their Mental Health. I have been able to reassure people about what the current government restrictions are so that they know they can still go outside for a daily walk etc as a lot of people have been confused if they do not have access to a television or radio. I have been able to apply for funds for those who are struggling to access the community or have been advised to stay at home as they are in the at risk categories.

What has been important to know: Knowing the most up to date information, such as the new Mental Health helpline, is vital to be able to pass on. Also important is a good understanding of all the amazing charities that are still providing a service such as the Samaritans and more local charities such as the Tomorrow Project offering suicide crisis support. These are all vital support mechanisms for our clients and I pass on their phone numbers for those that can make contact or I can refer people to them myself.

Working from home has meant that I can take part in online training. I have taken part in a 3-week training programme run by Homeless Link called Complex Trauma and Trauma Informed Care for frontline staff, which will help me to be better equipped to support the people on my caseload. I  also have had to respond to enquiries from the police and Social Services about some of the beneficiaries I work with for safeguarding purposes, passing on information to their other keyworkers in hostels etc. to ensure their safety.

My biggest success: I would say my biggest success is helping a gentleman who had just moved into his own tenancy after being in hostels for the last two years before the lockdown. I have been able to get funds from two different charities to get him an oven and white goods installed, as the flat was completely unfurnished. As he is in the high-risk category for Covid 19, I have ensured he has received regular food parcels and hot meals delivered and arranged for his medication to be delivered. I was able to pass on a radio to him which had been donated to Emmanuel House from the local community which he has found really useful to keep in touch with the outside world as well as being able to listen to music. It has been a real team effort with his Framework keyworker who I keep in regular contact with to ensure he is safe and well and has everything he needs.

The challenging work our team is carrying out is only possibly due to the fantastic support shown by our community. Please donate to our Coronavirus Appeal to help us to continue to support the city’s most vulnerable people.