Tomi is Service Host here at The Connection, spending most of his time at our reception desk. He’s often the first member of staff people meet when they enter our building on Adelaide Street. In this interview Tomi tells us about the importance of building relationships with people in order to help them move away from the streets.
Every day is different. It’s rewarding, fulfilling. Our team covers two floors – we make sure everything runs smoothly and provide access to the services clients use. I am often the first port of call for most people who comes into the building – visitors, staff, and new clients. I like meeting people. I like the feeling that I am in some way part of a network for someone needing support.
People come into The Connection for various reasons. People who may have been rough sleeping for a very long time – they access the services in a slightly different way from clients who may use the service for a short period of time, even a few hours.
People may come here because they need support with addictive behaviour– their lives have become unmanageable, they maybe have financial issues as a result, they might have lost a job because of that and ultimately their accommodation. People have mental health crises, relationship breakdowns or immigration related challenges. There are people who sometimes return to the services who may have lost contact with support services.
People are people and they sense if you are there and listen, and genuinely want to help. I treat everyone as individuals and that’s a basis for relationships. You form relationships by listening to people. You end up having a lot of discussions during the day. And it could be of anything, and it’s life that you get to know: who they are as individuals. You can see change in people and we are shown real appreciation on our work.
What I try to remember from my everyday work is – I try to keep my work consistent. People come into the service and you don’t usually know what happens to them afterwards. When I talk to someone and advise them, people listen what you say and you hope you can give them a ‘nugget of wisdom’ or hope or courage they can utilise. It might not be now but they may remember what you say, in years to come, and have a realisation: maybe that was some good advice from Tomi. I hope that comes through with my work. Like I said, often I never going to know how peoples stories continue but that’s why I think being present is so important overall for what I do.
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