Two Community Connectors working at Powys Association of Voluntary Organisations, Lynda Rogers - South and Rebecca Henderson - North, have been allocated to work directly with clients presenting as homeless via Powys County Council. They will be coordinating the Third sector (voluntary) support which is required by individuals.
I caught up with Lynda and Rebecca to find out more about this important work.
Why are two from the Connectors’ team best placed to carry out this work?
Within the Connector team there is a vast knowledge and experience of the third sector homelessness support, and of working with third sector organisations to find the most appropriate support for the client. This would be after having a conversation with the individual about what really matters to them.
Will you be working closely with other agencies?
Yes, we will be working as part of a triage team of support across Powys. We will be supporting clients either virtually, within a HUB multi agency drop in session, or 1:1 as deemed most appropriate and as suitable. (Currently we are working within the restrictions of Covid-19 and we are not delivering 1:1 support face to face).
The Connectors have vast experience of arranging, hosting and delivering ‘drop in’ information support sessions across Powys. For example, pre Covid some Connectors would hold weekly drop in sessions at library or health settings.
How is somebody referred in for this support?
Referrals are made into the service via our duty system. Upon receiving a referral the duty officer will assign it to the relevant Connector via our Customer Record Management system (CRM). Our duty system operates from 9am - 4pm, Mon - Fri, with an out of hours answerphone system also in place. Referral can also be received via email to a dedicated duty email account.
We have in fact been given a large list from the outset and professionals are referring new clients to us as they add them to the temporarily accommodated clients/ homeless people list.
Tell us more about how the support works
We will work with the client addressing the ‘What Matters conversation’. On identifying the presenting issues we will coordinate the support for the client, accessing the most appropriate and timely third sector support available. We work closely with third sector organisations including POBL, the Mind groups, Ponthafren Association, Age Cymru Powys and Powys Citizens Advice bureau.
As Connectors we will work with other professionals within the partnership (see below) to support the client, address any issues, and ensure clear communication regarding the support that is being given and obtained.
Our work will ensure that support is given in a timely manner, taking into account the fact that most clients are housed in temporary housing accommodation and need to receive support in order to move into more appropriate housing.
Which other organisations are in this partnership?
We are attending the meetings of housing teams and the Homeless Cell Multi-agency group. The latter is a multi agency group formed during Covid-19 to plan support for individuals presenting as homeless. We attend the meetings to ensure that true partnership support is in place for the client. We also inform partners of the support obtained to date, the progress of the support and input into discussions regarding clients.
The added benefit of the Connectors attending a team meeting is also to inform Powys County Council Housing staff of third sector support that is available so that they can more readily support other clients they may be working with.
What experience does the Connectors’ service bring to this work?
The Connector Service has previous experience of working within other teams such as the Dementia Home Treatment Team and the Winter Pressures Co-ordination team, for example, to deliver third sector support to clients.
What can lead someone to become homeless in Powys?
Many things! Every case is different. It could be a breakdown of family relationships. Perhaps parents are not able to accommodate an older child over sixteen. Also there is an unstable private rentals sector and the cost of private rentals can be prohibitive for people.
Homelessness can have a massive negative impact on a person’s mental health.
During the first Covid lockdown in March homeless people were regarded as vulnerable and in priority need. This approach is continuing in the Phase 2 Homelessness Project.
Have you had any feedback about the project so far?
Feedback from clients:
'Hi just wanted to say thanks for your help recently with warm regards.'
'It's been really helpful talking to you, thanks.'
‘I would not have raised the issue with my manager, if you had not pointed out I am being bullied, by accepting the name calling from my colleagues.'
'Thanks so much for helping me find financial support to pay for the vet to look after my cats.'
Feedback from officers:
‘This is great work. We can’t believe the amount of voluntary organisations in Powys who are able to help support people.’
What are the most challenging areas of this work?
The work can be emotionally draining as well as politically upsetting and frustrating.
What are the most rewarding aspects?
Being part of a team where everyone is working towards the same goals, and helping individuals gain support whilst in crisis.
When you are not working as Community Connectors how do you like to spend your spare time?
We enjoy hanging out with our families, cooking, reading novels, gardening and walking footpaths.
Many thanks to Lynda and Rebecca for telling us about their work supporting homeless people. If you would like to find out more you can contact them by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org or tel: 01597 828649.