With over thirty years’ service at The Connection, Peter is now one of the charity’s most experienced members of staff. In 2021, Peter was promoted to Resource Centre Manager. Below Peter talks about his recent experiences during the Covid-19 pandemic, his team’s day to day work and what he likes best about this role.
During the pandemic, I managed a hotel for homeless clients. The biggest challenge was helping people to understand the need to stay inside, that you couldn’t manoeuvre all over the place. It was a challenge, but at the same time, there were some positives, because the conditions of lockdown meant we could really do some intensive work with clients. It was an opportunity, and I must say, we did superbly. Personally, I went into lockdown supporting five clients in a hotel, and after lockdown, I was only working with one client. That said, I was persistent! I was constantly emailing people, constantly staying on top of people to get things moving for my clients but I always knew what I was trying to achieve.
My role’s changed over the last six, seven months, previously, I was with the Engagement and Assessment team and now I’m the Manager of the Resource Centre. At the moment, I’m still doing some frontline work but I now also have management responsibilities for my team. It’s a big change but I’m really enjoying it.
On a typical day, my team will be engaging with clients, trying to support them, whether it’s putting clients in touch with key workers, the homeless health team, Department of Work and Pensions or other agencies like Turning Point. We could be getting clients bus tickets, maps, or giving them information like phone numbers to contact Universal Credit. Whatever the need, my team is interacting all the time with colleagues and with people externally, pulling everything together in many ways.
I can’t stress enough the importance of building relationships with clients. It gives clients confidence in the worker, because if you have an understanding and a relationship with someone, you will be confident to go to that person and talk to them about something. Knowing a client’s name is so important. I see, when I call a client by their name, the way they behave. It tells them that you’re taking notice. And that’s key for me. When somebody presents to you, it’s not what you see, it’s where they’ve come from. Everyone’s got a story, everybody’s come from somewhere. So I really try to treat everybody like that. I look at things from my clients’ perspective, when they come into our organisation it’s about what they need. For them, it may be an emergency, maybe something they need quickly. And there’s some things we can do quickly. We can definitely give our clients immediate access to basic services – a shower, hot food, the opportunity to get their clothes laundered. But you know, accommodation takes a little bit longer so we need to understand if there’s anything else we can put in place to relieve immediate anxieties.
I always get asked a question about how is it that I’ve been here so long, how do I keep going? You know, I don’t feel burned out, I don’t I get bored. I have lots of outside activities, which obviously keeps me going. So I’m always fresh to come in and excited because I know that when it comes to the end of the day, my mind’s now switching off because I’ve now got something else to do. So I find things that can help me deal with my stress. I’m a football and table tennis coach and I work at a youth club. Because it can be stressful, emotionally stressful. When I was a senior worker, I was called up to 20 times a day to different scenarios, which means I was dealing with different emotional issues each of those times and then where do I go with that? So I’ve learned to use my coaching as an outlet.
I’m very proud of the organisation I work for. Our intentions are really good in what we are looking to do. The best of my job is seeing somebody leave The Connection happy. That’s what puts a smile on my face. And sometimes it’s the small things that will make somebody happy. The fact that someone hasn’t had a shower for a week, and they get a shower or they’ve got their clothes laundered. They’re leaving with a smile, and I feel good because we’ve actually provided a service that somebody really needs.
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