Ellen Adams- Senior Project Worker
I’ve worked at The Gingerbread Centre for nearly 15 years, where I have had various roles- Night/Evening/ Weekend Worker, Substance Misuse Worker/ Key Worker and now Senior Project Worker at Rothesay Court. Each role has given me different experiences and challenges and the opportunity to work with lots of interesting and diverse people, while supporting homeless families. As a charity we can experience challenges but we are very lucky to be located in Stoke-on-Trent where people can be so generous with donations of items and money to enable us to continue to do the work we do.
Each family we work with has their own support needs, which has led them to a move into Rothesay Court. Support needs can vary from low level to more complex needs, such as substance misuse, mental health, domestic abuse, exploitation and debt. Each family also has their own strengths and skills, which is something we try to build on using support plans tailored to the individual. The safety of families is always at the centre of everything we do, so we have additional risk management plans in place reflecting safeguarding and well-being.
We receive referrals from a variety of agencies, including Housing Solutions and other local supported accommodation providers, as well as from parents themselves. The referrals are for families who are either homeless, at risk of homelessness or are not safe in their current accommodation. I take responsibility for the waiting list alongside the Operational Manager. I collect as much information about the family’s support needs as possible and speak with any agencies involved, to enable to me to establish if we are the most appropriate service for the family. Once I receive a referral I may invite the parent to come in for a chat, to go through the referral in person and to enable them to have a look the accommodation we provide. This gives the parent the opportunity to ask any question they may have and talk face to face which is sometimes easier than over the phone.
Although I don’t Key Work families anymore, I still have contact with most families at the office or around the building. We are very lucky to work with parents during pregnancy and once baby is born, seeing the family grow and move on successfully into their own home. Parents develop skills and work through their individual support plans with their Key Worker and Support Workers. We then look at families moving on into independent living in the community, where we can continue support until the family is fully settled into their new home.
I work closely with the Key Workers and Support Workers at Rothesay Court, offering guidance and advice around any issues or worries that may arise. Although we have a lot of varying professional experience between us, we are all continually developing and reflecting to ensure we are delivering an effective service for families. We review the work that we undertake which can include parenting skills, money management, debt advice via the CAB, well-being sessions, domestic abuse and healthy relationships work, resettlement sessions and groups to reduce isolation and build self-esteem. Feedback from families is important and if we need to refresh or update any of the work we do, we will do this.