"Home works is vital to the community"

Home Works Worker

If Home Works didn’t exist, there’d be a huge homelessness problem. People would be losing their tenancies hand over fist and there’d be a huge rise in mental health issues. It’d be a very desperate situation for the community.

I’m a Support Worker for Home Works. I work with people who are threatened with homelessness, have housing issues, and have vulnerabilities. I’m there to support clients to regain confidence and more control in their lives.

I work in North Wealden and have clients right down in Frant, up to Heathfield and all the surrounding villages – it’s a big area.

Virtually every client I see has complex issues going on. It’s usually quite multi-faceted. I initially meet a client to help with a housing issue but then find there are underlying issues. That is when I can start to navigate and engage them with community based support and other services if specialist support is needed.

A high proportion of Home Works clients have mental health issues. Some might be long term, some might be more recently developed. The mental ill health often has an effect on their finances and payments, resulting in debt, and then it becomes a vicious cycle because their health is then further affected.

I tailor my support and approach to each client. Every client has a complex story. If someone discloses something sensitive to me, it opens up a space for me to ask how they are already managing. I often broach difficult subjects conversationally to see how receptive they are to exploring them further and learning what else they can do to help themselves.

Home Works definitely makes a difference. It’s a comprehensive service, working holistically with the person and their family. I don’t think there’s an issue that we don’t address.

Our primary concern is that our clients’ housing is secure. But whilst we are making steps on this, we can help them look at their benefits to ensure they’re maximising their income and we make sure they link in with their GP and their mental health workers. We regularly connect clients to services like Health in Mind.

We work within a comprehensive outcomes framework but our work always involves looking at things holistically and finding the best approach for that person. That’s a very effective way of working.

I recently met a client who suffered a stroke that has made her partially sighted and so she’s become more and more isolated. I researched community support available to her and helped her access this.

For vulnerable clients in the middle of a life storm, having someone support them has a huge impact in terms of stopping the situation getting worse and getting them quickly back in control.

We use a coaching model in Home Works. Being given a leaflet and telephone number isn’t enough – clients with complex and multiple needs need more support than this. We give our clients encouragement and a gentle push to reach their goals.

I’m currently working with one lady whose life has completely changed from when I started working with her. It’s a joy - that’s where my job satisfaction comes in!

She was living in temporary accommodation in Uckfield after moving from temporary accommodation in Eastbourne. She was very low; her home had hardly any furniture, her finances were chaotic, and she had a complex medical situation.

Through Home Works support she’s been re-housed in a housing association property. Our service managed to get her funding for a cooker, fridge-freezer, and washing machine. I applied for another grant to get carpets fitted throughout her property and made a referral for a care alarm system to be installed in her home.

Before our Home Works intervention, she was struggling with not having a home she could call her own – she felt like she was in limbo and her family life was fractured. Since we helped her secure and settle into her new home she’s now got more support from her children and her relationships have improved. It’s completely changed her!

I like having that input. I like having time each week to spend with clients, to see the situation from the beginning to the end. I used to be a nurse and I found that in hospital I didn’t have that time at all. Nursing felt like it had become less about care and more about paperwork. You don’t have time to sit with a patient. You know nothing about them. It’s really sad.

Working in Home Works I get to know the client. I get to know their family background and them as a person. I get to know what time they’d prefer me to contact them and how. It’s the simple things that make the difference.

Home works is vital to the community, it’s a hub. Our service is like the centre cog of a wheel.

If Home Works didn’t exist, there’d be a huge homelessness problem. People would be losing their tenancies hand over fist and there’d be a huge rise in mental health issues. It’d be a very desperate situation for the community.

Within the service we have decades of experience, a wealth of experience, and our staff go above and beyond. Home Works does so many other people’s jobs in one.

What I like about Southdown is that there’s no difference between who we are. I can talk to our Chief Executive the same way as a team member. We are free to communicate with each other. My voice matters here, my opinion matters.

Home Works is a proactive service. We work with people in crisis and stop their situation becoming even worse. The effectiveness of community services like ours will always go unseen when they’re doing their job effectively. So many clients tell us they would not be alive today had it not been for Home Works.

If the proposed financial cuts go ahead and the service is greatly reduced, there will be so many other services impacted by this. The Council needs to know that Home Works is worth far more that the funding they currently get. There will be a lot of people who will become seriously unwell and their lives will fall apart causing social devastation.

I read a client’s survey response today. In her answer to the question, ‘What would you have done without Home Works support?’ she wrote, ‘I’d have put myself to sleep.’ That is powerful. And it’s not unusual.

We can get lost in the minutiae of life, but when you hear a comment like that you think, ‘We do a bloody good job.’

I do this work because I love this job.

 

Home Works is our housing support service in East Sussex. It provides focused support to people aged 16 to 64 years. Clients may be single people, couples or families who are at risk of losing their home, have no permanent home or need help to live independently.

East Sussex County Council is proposing, in its draft 2018/19 budget, to cut funding for the Home Works service by 50%. If this goes ahead, it will have devastating consequences for thousands of vulnerable people at risk of homelessness. It will also transfer considerable additional pressures onto local housing, health and social care services. Please support Home Works by having your say – click here to complete the Council’s public consultation. The consultation is open to East Sussex residents.