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31 May 2016

Mark’s May blog

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An interview with Assessment and Reconnection Worker Mark about what it’s like to work at No Second Night Out.

What’s a typical day at work like for you?

There’s really no such thing! One day I might be in Scotland assisting a client to make a homelessness application at Housing Options – the next day I might be at our hub in Lewisham doing an assessment with a Sri Lankan client who’s just come in off the streets using a telephone interpreter because he doesn’t speak any English.

Today I’ve been researching an accommodation project for people exiting gangs. I’m in contact with a local authority to try to secure a referral into the project for someone in the hub. I hope he’ll then be able to be housed in a new area for his safety and will receive specialist support to rebuild his life away from gangs.

So today, through assessing this client and researching the support services available to him I’ve learned a lot about gang culture and the support that’s out there for young people leaving gangs. That’s something I would say about a typical day in this job – every day I learn something new.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

I enjoy the good days! When I’m working with someone who I’ve thought it’ll be tough to secure accommodation for, but then I advocate the case successfully with a local authority and the client is housed the same day – that’s a great day.

I also really like working with “difficult” clients. So often people’s needs have been ignored because they’re not obvious. It’s so nice to be able to say to people “while you’re here we’ll listen and we’ll try to make it so that when you leave there will also be people who can hear you.”

It’s always nice to see people who were supported by NSNO in the past as well. Recently a client I helped into a supported project as a young man came back to NSNO to visit. He’s a tree surgeon now and engaged to be married – it was lovely to see him doing so well.

What are some of the challenges of the role?

Sometimes it can be challenging motivating clients when they’ve had a knock. Recently I accompanied a client to an assessment at a supported accommodation project. He’d really liked the project and the staff and had been really enthusiastic about moving there.

Unfortunately he ended up being refused for the accommodation because of a past conviction. He was very dejected and down after the news. This was a client who had left home and dropped out of school aged 12 – he’d ended up rough sleeping after leaving a hostel due to fears over his safety.

What motivates you to do this job?

I can make an actual difference to a person’s life– it’s quite a privilege for that to be my job.

In so many cases people don’t know what they’re entitled to. They don’t know you can claim housing benefit or make a claim for discretionary housing payments and in many cases people would have been able to keep their home and never had to sleep rough if they’d known.

As well as providing a solution to the immediate crisis of someone sleeping rough I also see NSNO as a preventative service. For example – we run private rented sector workshops with clients in the hub which equips them with knowledge about tenancy law, benefit entitlements and what to do when things go wrong. This means when people leave NSNO to go into their own flat they know what to do if they run into problems and are far less likely to become homeless again.




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