Following government cuts in spending on support services last year, the team in Staffordshire has had to find ways to ensure that people who need extra help are not left to manage alone.
They have been running a drop-in centre in Rugeley for over 18 months and about a year ago the team began facilitating a weekly drop-in advice centre at Cannock Chase District Council every Thursday between 10am and midday. At this two-hour session, support workers Carla and Sam offer coaching to anyone who needs help with anything relating to housing, mental health and wellbeing, dealing with letters, benefits and finding work, education or volunteering opportunities.
An increase in numbers attending the drop-in prompted the team to look for an extra venue which has resulted in Cannock Community Fire Station opening its doors on Wednesdays to help.
The team is hoping that this will become a weekly session and the next few dates for the drop-in are: 20 and 27 May, 3 and 17 June.
Support worker, Carla explains why the extra venue is much needed:
“Sometimes we have a queue of people waiting to see us. We’re only here [Cannock Council] for two hours a week as our main role is to offer floating support to vulnerable people in their own homes. We have found that it’s not enough time to answer all of the queries that people come to us with. Some of the issues are really easy to deal with, things like helping someone understand a letter or a bill and only take a few minutes, but we are also faced with more complex challenges.
“A good example of this is a 54-year-old gentleman named Charles. He was referred to us for support but when I went to his home, it was obvious that one of his main problems was that he was suffering with his mental health and feeling isolated. Charles isn’t from the local area and had no friends or family to socialise with so I advised him to come along to meet me at the drop-in at Cannock.
“During our conversations I discovered that Charles has extremely limited mobility in his left arm due to an accident he had a few years ago which resulted in him needing a bone graft. His disability seriously affected his quality of life as he really struggled with cooking, dressing and bathing. As well as his physical struggles he was finding it almost impossible to make ends meet financially.
When we first met he wasn’t looking after himself properly and the only thing that he ate was pre-packed sandwiches. He couldn’t afford anything to cook on because of his low income.
“Charles was only receiving ESA when he first came to us but we helped him to apply for PIP and he now gets an extra £54 per week. This extra money has allowed him to buy a microwave and is helping him to save towards a freezer. This means that instead of living on sandwiches, he can now buy meals to microwave and will soon be able to stock up on freezer food too. He has also been referred to occupational health and is currently on the waiting list for various aids and adaptations to help him even more around his home.
“Through the drop-in, he was referred to Chase Emotional Wellbeing who have offered him counselling for his depression. His confidence is slowly returning and he has even joined a local community group. Since being part of Friends of Hednesford Park, Charles takes part in various activities such as their ‘walk for health’ that takes place every Monday. He has also completed an emergency life support course, a basket weaving course and received his bronze navigator award.
“He has been involved in voluntary work – marshalling at the recent war memorial ceremony in Chadsmoor and is looking forward to the bank holiday weekend when he will helping out at the Hednesford carnival. Possibly best of all though”
Charles went onto say: “The drop-in really helps people like me who are isolated in their own homes but need some help. Being involved with Bromford has honestly changed my life.”
For more information you can call Carla on 07416 580358 or Sam on 07834 568895.