Ros has been the Recovery and Opportunities Manager at The Connection since November 2021. Her role oversees our recovery groups and activities, employment and training, client involvement and volunteering across the whole organisation. As someone who has lived experience of accessing homelessness services, Ros is hugely passionate about constantly getting feedback from our clients and co-producing our services so they work for those we support.
Ros explains why her team is a vital part of the charity, “it gives people the opportunity to not just be a case, or a person on a caseload. It gives people the opportunity to connect and build relationships with other people, like their peers and our colleagues here.” Building up trust with our clients is incredibly important so we know how we can best work with them and help them achieve their goals, “it’s much easier to open up and chat to someone over a bit of art, or going for a walk rather than in a really formal casework environment.”
“We had someone staying at (one of our accommodations) who had really not been engaging with his caseworker, not coming out of his room, having a really hard time. And we’d been doing this photography project. And he’s been for the last three sessions, like absolutely amazing, he absolutely loves it. And it’s a really nice informed time, there’s no pressure on housing outcomes, or engagement outcomes, it’s just – we’re going to take some photos and it’s going to be really fun. It’s wonderful.”
Running these activities also helps people to develop their talents and build their confidence back up, “we had a really long term Street Engagement Team (SET) client in the music group just before Christmas, who knew how fantastic he was at music? Just like playing along, improvising everything and just being so great. And there were no preconceptions about him. We work with Street Song and they’ve been doing a project with SET and they went out with a keyboard. It turns out so many of our clients can play the piano and were getting really involved and have talked a lot more and have been much more engaged ever since. Sometimes doing something a bit different has a really positive impact.”
Ros also helps coordinate activities for our new women’s space which operates on Wednesday mornings from 9am-12pm, open to women experiencing or at risk of homelessness in Westminster. Women can access food, showers, laundry, activities, advice and support or just somewhere to sit and feel relaxed and safe.
“You don’t need to engage in things around your housing. We just want to provide a space where women feel safe. And hopefully, in time, that means then they might feel more comfortable to come to the service at other points. But, at this point, it’s just enough to come in, have a hot drink, have some food, have a chat, do some word searches, colour in some tote bags, just hang out and chat.”
We want everything we do at The Connection to be informed by our clients and Ros is a huge champion of making sure the people we support are part of our decision making process. “The people that we work with have skills and knowledge and experience way beyond what we just see written down on a piece of paper. How can we harness that and make this organisation much better?
“All interviews for people wishing to work at The Connection have clients on the panel, the clients give candidates a tour of the building. They get given the job description, and they come together, and they decide the questions they’re going to ask the candidates, and they deliver the panel, and then bring them to the staff panel interview. And then at the end of the day, the staff and the client panel come together and make a decision. And it’s really really great. Because obviously we want our clients to have a say in who’s employed and who’s working for them. But then, they’re also on the flip side of interviewing, they’re seeing stuff around work and employment. They’re also learning about negotiation skills. They’re learning time management skills, they’re learning all sorts.”
“We’re experts because of the experience of people who have experience of using services. Loads of people have years and years of professional experience, but it cannot replicate what it’s like to have to use a service like this. For this to be a lifeline for your basic needs.”
We wouldn’t be able to support people off the streets without the input of our clients and our brilliant Recovery and Opportunities Team. With your support, we can continue to provide these programmes throughout the year.
£200 could pay for 10 hours of art room sessions, helping our clients to develop their skills and build their confidence.
Donating by phone and post
You can donate over the telephone by calling 020 7766 5555 (Lines monitored Monday-Friday 9am-5pm)
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The Connection at St Martin’s
12 Adelaide Street
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