An ‘ordinary’ day
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‘How was your day?’ asked my seven year old son. ‘Good, it was really good thank you,’ I quickly replied. ‘What did you do today?’ he then asked. This question was a littler harder to answer so I simply generalised with ‘I’ve been helping people.’ This response seemed to satisfy him as he smiled and disappeared into the living room to watch yet another repeat of Tracy Beaker.
I’ve been a support worker for nearly three and a half years and have helped countless vulnerable people in many different ways. But it’s only when I’m asked what I do that I really ‘think’ about the impact that we have on everybody that we come into contact with.
The answer that I gave to my son didn’t satisfy me so I decided to keep a note of my days. I have been keeping notes for over a week now and here is the first of my ‘Ordinary’ days.
I met a new colleague at the office as she was shadowing me for the morning. Our first appointment of the day is with a gentleman in his fifties. He has suffered with depression and anxiety since leaving the forces and the breakdown of his marriage. He self medicates with alcohol and is currently on the waiting list for a detox. We encouraged him to check his bank balance (something he finds extremely stressful). After discovering that he had funds in his account we were then able to complete a budgeting sheet with him. Once this simple exercise was complete my customer visibly relaxed as he realised that he could afford to pay his bills this week. We arrived to be greeted by an extremely anxious man and we left with him smiling. A very satisfying support visit.
From there I took my colleague to meet the team at the local housing office. I introduced her to the estate management team, the rents team and the housing allocations team. These are all people that I have built strong working relationships with and find their help and knowledge invaluable when delivering our support. This visit took us to lunch time and I dropped my colleague back at the office before going straight off to another appointment.
I met with a man in his thirties who I helped to deal with a backlog of letters that he had been ‘ignoring’. I also supported him to call the water company and TV licensing to set up a new payment plan as he has fallen behind on his old plan. He was anxious about doing this but with a little encouragement he got through it. We discussed his mental health and I encouraged him to speak to his GP with a view to getting referred to a local support group. He had no idea that help was out there and really appreciated my advice.
My last appointment of the day is with a 21 year old lady who has recently given birth to her third child. Her first two children have been adopted due to her chaotic lifestyle when they were born and her newborn baby is also subject to a child protection plan. The baby has been taken straight into foster care and she currently has contact for five mornings a week.
We have recently applied for backdated housing benefit as she had no income for a period in the summer but didn’t claim housing benefit due to her suffering from depression. The benefit was backdated and £882 was paid into her rent account, leaving arrears of just £90. This ensured that she was no longer at immediate risk of eviction.
We chatted about her children and it became apparent that nobody had ever really listened to her. She was so sad about what had happened and wanted desperately to put things right. She had spent her own childhood in care and had never been shown love.
After leaving her flat, I sat in my car and took a deep breath. I looked back and saw her disappear into the kitchen. I drove home in silence, wasn’t in the mood for the radio. I wondered how she would be spending her evening. I know that children are taken away for their safety and I totally agree that they should be. But when you see a mother without her baby you can’t help but feel sad…no matter how many times you’ve seen it.
As I walked in to my house I was greeted by my seven year old son asking ‘What have you done today?’
What would you tell him?
By Steve Nestor