1 May 2020

'Lockdown' - Week 6 - from a front line Support Worker

We chat to Dave Berry, another of our Support Workers working on the front line.

My clients have been really good. They’ve all accepted the situation. I ring them twice a week and they all know my phone is always on if they need anything and I can try and help sort it out. Some literally just want reassurance that they’re doing the right things. The ones who aren’t housed are sofa surfing somewhere where they are fairly happy and they understand when we speak that there’s not a lot we can do and it’s a waiting game, there’s just not a lot of movement in terms of properties at the minute. I’ve got about 4 clients who need houses and they’re all eligible for Key Choice Council housing but they understand that there’s not a lot we can do until that reopens. There are some ongoing jobs to do – I’ve been filling in Community Living Support applications for 3 of my new clients and making sure they’re all in place ready to go when this lockdown lifts and we can start moving again.

I live over in Huddersfield and I’m diabetic so I’m socially isolating and have been since 16th March. I just can’t risk any contact or getting it as it could be fatal for me, so when any of my clients have needed food parcels or anything delivering my colleagues have been helping me out with that. Jude has been helping me by collecting cooked meals from Noah’s Ark and dropping those off which is a big help. The whole team are available and we all work to support one another.

I had one client give birth to a baby boy on Wednesday morning and she isn’t housed at the moment, she’s sofa surfing at her sister’s. The baby came early she was just 35 weeks yesterday so a bit unexpected! When I found out, I had to do quite a bit of ringing round with the Council to see if we could find somewhere for her to live. As it happened, when I spoke to her she’s happy to stay with her sister at the moment. When she went into hospital her sister and niece cleared a bedroom for her so whilst they’re a bit crushed, she’s happy to stay there at the minute and her family can help with the baby. I did get her on gold banding though now so when Key Choice opens back up she’ll have a real fighting chance, although they’re going to be incredibly busy with the backlog.

I’m also in the process of housing a couple – they were squatting and had no running water or heating. They only signed up for a property last Friday which is great that we’ve found one so quickly, but they’d been having problems moving in. They did have a bed and a sofa so needed a van. I’ve managed to get that sorted to move them in and this is with a private landlord. I’ll try and get some other household items sorted for them now as a welcome pack.

Another client has a new baby which was born in February and I’ve been involved with core group meetings with her. They’re being done as a conference call now which is something I’ve never done before but it’s really great that she’s still getting all the support she needs. She’s in a one bed-roomed flat at the moment but I’ve managed to get her a two bed-roomed house which she has seen, we’re just waiting now for the paperwork to go through. She’s coping really well though.

Personally, I feel a bit down about the fact that I’m not able to go out and see other people. Other members of the team are going into the office and going to our storage unit and I just feel a bit helpless. I’m lucky I have a garden at home so I can get some fresh air, but it’s taking its toll now. My wife works for the fire service and does fire safety checks. She’s working from home as well so I’m not literally on my own. She’s not going out either because she wants to keep me safe. It’s hard not seeing our children and grandchildren, but we do a bit of face-timing. We’re getting by. I really miss going out and seeing my clients and making sure they’re alright. You take a fatherly or motherly role over your clients when you’re supporting them, it’s a really strange concept because although they’re all adults, you still take an important role of support for them.