I can deal with mental illness (client #1). I can deal with debt (client #2). But I find it most difficult to deal with clients who are homeless.
It does not faze me when clients behave strangely, usually from a nervous tic, as a result of their physical or mental issues. She listened, she took notes, and she was going to do what I told her to do in order to help herself. "God bless," she said, when she left.
I was most impressed by the client who listed all his outgoings neatly and asked how he was to find the additional £200-£300 every month to make up the shortfall in income. This is certainly something that we could help with, and so an appointment was made for the client to return. Again, I sent him away with some 'homework'. He has to do the preparatory work before we could help him.
[Then an adviser told me how she had just seen a client I had interviewed. This client told her that I had done nothing for her. The adviser explained that I had been so concerned with her that I had phoned the manager to organize an appointment for her to see an adviser. She asked the client if she had done as I told: phone those people who would be able to advise her.
Client said "no". Adviser told her that she is the one who must make the phone calls. We are here to empower, not do their work for them. Adviser did give her a sample letter that she could use. Client apologized for making the comment about my being unhelpful.]
Then, two young homeless people. My heart went out to them.
I do not know the whole story, but I think the girl had been thrown out of her house by her mum, possibly because the mum was not happy with her relationship with the boy.
They have been messed about by a potential landlord after being supported by a homeless charity for a short period. The local council said it was "too late" to extend any help that day. They had to return the following day. The girl was petrified by the prospect of spending a (cold) night on the streets.
I rang around but could only leave her mobile number for the shelters to call her back.
Finally we found a shelter (the same one I phoned this time last year) that would take them if they could get a 'police referral' from a police station. They have extra beds, but only beds, to cope with the demand for shelter this winter.
On her notes I read that the couple had gone to Housing Services and she was told that she was not deemed 'vulnerable' unless she was pregnant or had a child.
Again, we see people are incentivized to have babies in order to access benefits. (She already has benefits, but needs housing.)
I said, "You are not planning to get pregnant, I hope." No, she said, they are both still in education although clearly neither has been able to attend class. She seems a really level-headed young woman and I pray and hope that they would settle somewhere soon, get their training done and find a job.
I very nearly offered to pray for them in my interview room, but I don't think my charity would accept that. However they could see how distressed I was by their plight.
"You know, I am a mother, too."
So I turned to my FB to ask friends to pray for these two.
As we come to the end of another year when we tend to take stock, I must count my blessings. It has not been an altogether smooth year. There was a major heartache right in the middle of it, but at least we have our little family to cling to.
For others, for the many I meet at the charity, the meaning and experience of family is quite, quite different