Safeguarding, salad and sign-ups
As alarm clocks up and down the country signal the start of a new day we follow a number of colleagues to find out what they get up to on a daily basis.
Here, community connector Amy Whittaker talks us through her day.
I normally get up early but today was earlier than normal thanks to my fiancé, Jay. His alarm for work went off at 4am which is not a problem in itself - the fact that he turned it off, went back to sleep and was called by his workmates from outside our front door was! Once he’d answered the phone and stumbled around the bedroom, there was no way that I was going back to sleep especially when Marley, our black Labrador puppy, started ‘crying’ as Jay finally left for work.
I trundled down the stairs and gave him some food – before feeding the cat who decided it’s a good idea to circle my feet whilst I made a cup of tea. Just as the kettle boiled I heard my two year-old daughter shouting for milk from her cot – 5.15am.
The next hour or so was spent changing nappies, making beds and feeding Grace - although she drops most of it down herself and feeds the dog what’s left. In between all of this I found myself fighting with Marley for my hairbrush and prising my straighteners out of his mouth whilst chasing Grace around the house as she tried to escape with my make-up.
6.45am – I woke up my twelve year-old son, Ben, and the battle of the quilt began. I pulled it off, he pulled it back over himself moaning that he’s cold although the house felt like a sauna.
7.15am – Ben finally made it downstairs after being shouted at by both Grace and I for the last half hour. Then we had the ‘search for the uniform’ game followed by the daily spillage of juice – which the dog gratefully laps up before we finally manage to leave the house at 7.45am.
Over an hour later, following a 26-mile journey to drop the kids at school and nanny’s house, I arrived at the office. I quickly ran in and picked up the new tenancy sign-up paperwork that I needed for the day before heading off to Starling Grove in Solihull, a scheme for people living with learning disabilities.
I meet Peter* who is in his forties and has severe anxiety and a learning disability. As I sign him up for his new tenancy I find out that he previously lived in accommodation that had 24-hour support. One of the first questions that he asked was “What time have I got to be in by – I normally have to be back by eight?” quickly followed by “What time is breakfast?”
I explained that he was moving into his own flat and that there were no restrictions on what time he came home and that he could have his breakfast whenever he wanted it. It took a little while for it to sink in, but once Peter began to realise that he was now in control of his own life, a smile started to appear on his face.
I look after the housing management side of things at eight schemes and visit them all on a weekly basis, so am really looking forward to seeing how Peter gets on in the coming months.
After leaving Peter, I get my daily call from Martin*. Martin lives in one of our schemes in Wolverhampton and is partially deaf. He calls every day to have a chat but unfortunately, because of his hearing impairment, he can never hear what I’m saying and always puts the phone down mid-conversation. I text him (as always) to check that he’s OK and promptly receive a reply saying that he’s fine.
Reassured that all is OK with him, I head to my car where I receive another call – this time from the police.
A few weeks ago I received a call from one of our repair colleagues who said that he was concerned about one of our customers. John* had told him that his TV, food and money had been stolen by a woman. John, like all of my customers, lives with a learning disability and is extremely vulnerable and so I was really concerned for his welfare.
I was unable to get hold of him at the time so I had asked the police to attend and check on the situation. The phone call that I received today was confirming that this was the fourth time that John’s property had been stolen – it was clear that due to his vulnerability he was being taken advantage of on a regular basis.
After speaking to the police, I contacted John’s social worker and support worker and the three of us are now working together to make sure that this doesn’t happen again by developing a plan of action to ensure his ongoing safety.
I prepared myself a salad last night – cous cous, salad potatoes, peppers, tomatoes and iceberg lettuce and I sit in the car and eat it. But before doing so, I take a quick photo and send it to my colleague Steve as we have a bit of a ‘battle of the lunches’ competition going on. He has a boring ham sandwich today – I win!
My next call is to a mother and daughter who have recently moved from a first-floor flat into a bungalow because mum couldn’t cope with the stairs due to a physical disability.
The bungalow has two bedrooms and because it is a shared property they are both signed up for their own tenancy agreement. Jane* who is 21-years old lives with a severe learning disability and has never lived independently and her mum worries about how she would cope if anything happens to her.
Having a tenancy each enables them both to receive the help and support that they need, giving Jane the independence that her mum wants for her. This not only gives Jane more control over her life, it also gives her mum much needed peace of mind to know that everything is place to help her daughter if anything ever happens to her.
We completed all the paperwork and I helped Jane to fill in her first ever housing benefit claim form before heading off to our Wolverhampton Street scheme.
I carried out the regular fire alarm checks and scheme inspection to ensure that everything was working and the scheme was safe from hazards. Nothing to report today so I quickly catch up with the care providers before heading back to the office.
It’s getting close to the end of the day and I grab a quick 206 from the machine – that’s a cappuccino with sugar – only my second hot drink of the day. Scanning in the paperwork that I completed throughout the day I catch up with a couple of colleagues before replying to my emails, returning a couple of missed calls and tying up any loose ends before leaving.
On the journey home I’m accompanied by Take That – you can’t beat a bit of ‘Relight My Fire’ in the car. Twenty six miles, and about an hour later, I walk into my house – children in tow.
Grace has broken another of nanny’s ornaments (sorry mum) and Ben is starving – nothing new there. No chance of relaxing just yet, first job is to clear the ripped-up puppy pad that Marley has kindly torn to shreds whilst we’ve been gone.
After cooking tea, walking the dog, getting the kids bathed and into bed it’s finally time to sit down and watch a bit of telly. I want ‘Walking Dead’ but Jay insists on watching ‘Duck Dynasty’ – here we go again. Luckily, he can’t resist my sad eyes…’Walking Dead’ it is then.
What is a community connector?
Lisa Simpson, service manager at Bromford explained about the community connector role, "It was created to help to free up support workers, allowing them to concentrate on working with their customers. The community connectors offer housing management for support schemes, dealing with tenancy related issues such as dealing with anti-social behaviour and signing customers up to their tenancies. Bromford recognises that the changing face of funding means that there is a real need to do things in the most efficient way possible and by having community connectors in place, every single penny that is paid for face-to-face support is spent on helping the most vulnerable."
Take a look at how another community connector, Vicky Sonderlo works alongside support worker, Katie Hunter to create a feeling of community.
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