We have recently recieved funding from FMG Support a fantastic private sector organisation based in Huddersfield. They sponsored one of our volunteers last year and this year have funded a worker to extend our great services into Huddersfield. Sally – the new worker – had this to say about her introduction to Simon after her first week with us:
My background has been rooted in the social care sector for the last few years. I have previously worked in Supported housing and advisory roles as well as volunteering with substance misuse and HIV support agencies. During this time I have worked with people from all walks of life, each person a unique individual and each with their own needs and aspirations. Although support work is often emotionally tough, it is hugely rewarding to see an individual take even the smallest steps to improving their lives.
I had been aware of Simon on the Streets for some time and when a post became available, I spent some time reading about the aims and ethos of Simon. The more I read, the more obvious it became that this is an organisation that really bridges the gaps between other services. It provides a unique service to people that have fallen through the net and those who don’t meet the criteria that will give them access to the services they desperately need. It gives a voice to those who are the most ignored and marginalized, and it’s there for the long-haul; providing people with a consistent and reliable source of support, something which may have been absent from their lives for a long time. This was a refreshing approach as often people are excluded from services for not conforming to criteria which is often unrealistic considering their chaotic and unstable lives. Change is something that occurs when a person is empowered and motivated to improve their life, it is difficult and unsustainable to force change on someone who is not in a situation to see the bigger picture.
I am reaching the end of my first week with Simon, which has been spent in Leeds. It has been an intense few days, but really good to see Fiona and Jamie working with service users. It’s clear that Simon’s ethos of giving much needed and unconditional emotional support is very beneficial to those using the service. Having heard the personal stories of people accessing the service, it is clear that the time and support invested has had a profound effect on their lives. They have access to empathic support from Fiona, Jamie and Clive, who assist them to work through their issues and find positive solutions. There is also practical support in terms of sign posting to services and having an advocate so that their voices can be heard. Some people are just starting out on their journeys, trying to see their way forward, others have accomplished major change and are on their way to a more settled future, but they are doing this for themselves, showing the value of emotional investment and time.
Unfortunately there are some people who can’t make that change and overcome the substance use or harmful behaviour that may ultimately take their lives! Often these are the people who are most in need of support, but least likely to receive it. My time in Leeds has shown that no matter what a person is going through, they won’t lose the support from their Simon worker, letting them know that every person matters and there will always be someone out there who cares.
I will soon be moving to Simon’s new project in Huddersfield and I feel I have learnt a lot in a few short days, from both service users and staff in Leeds. I am excited about being involved in setting up the project in a new area and the challenges this will pose. I hope that through a process of meeting other agencies, disseminating information and education, and leading by example, there will be more opportunities available to the people who really matter…. rootless and homeless people who need someone to listen to them, help make their voices heard and invest time in them so they can begin to help themselves.