Sarah works as a Community Advice Worker for Peasholme Charity – a York charity working with disadvantaged and socially excluded people – in particular those experiencing or at risk of homelessness.
Sarah manages a remote helpline which operates Mon-Wed and Fri 10:00 -15:00 providing crisis advice relating to housing, debt and food.
Each day is different – but here is a recent example of Sarah’s working week:
Sarah starts the day speaking to an International student from a disadvantaged background in India. The student had hoped to secure an internship or employment after graduating, but such opportunities have been scarce because of the pandemic.
With no job prospects, no recourse to public funds and a VISA due to expire any day – the student is at risk of homelessness and is facing deportation.
Sarah applies to Acts 435 and secures a £500 grant towards a return flight home to India.
Sarah says “The student had used any remaining Social Welfare Scholarship monies – just on daily needs – he was in a desperate situation. I’m so relieved we were able to help and get him home safely.”
In the afternoon – and after external supervision – Sarah receives a call from a homeless single male that is sofa-surfing. She asks about his situation and offers to refer him to Ray – Housing Link Worker for housing advice and/or Alison – Financial Coach for support with debt/budgeting. The client isn’t ready to engage so Sarah issues a voucher for York Foodbank to make sure he has food.
Sarah receives a call from a single female – on Universal Credit – caring for a kitten and a dog at home. The caller is concerned about her sick, elderly dog but is unable to afford vets fees or the cost of spaying/microchipping the kitten.
Sarah refers the client to ‘People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals’ (PDSA) who agree to pay part of the vet fees. Sarah secures a grant for the remaining balance and both the kitten and dog are seen by the vet.
Sarah has a meeting with her manager – discussing caseload and referrals to ‘Christians Against Poverty’ (CAP).
Sarah takes a phone call from a male with learning difficulties that is struggling to buy food for himself, his partner and three young children living at home. Sarah issues a voucher for York Foodbank to be sure they all have enough to eat.
Another call comes in from a single female with a drug problem who has been staying in different hostels and is seeking housing advice. Sarah refers the client to Ray and Ian – the housing team – for in-depth housing support and issues a voucher for York Foodbank.
Sarah attends the Homeless Link ‘Homelessness & Migration Conference 2021’ via Zoom.
Sarah receives a call from a single male – an employed chef – furloughed and unable to make ends meet. Sarah issues a voucher for York Foodbank and provides details of the ‘COYC Winter Support Grant’ – encouraging him to apply online. He is emailed a list of local community foodbanks created by ‘Healthwatch York’.
Another call comes into the Advice Line from a single male who is working full time in retail but cannot make ends meet due to unmanageable levels of debt. He is unable to buy food so a voucher for York Foodbank is issued. Sarah asks if he would like to be referred to Alison for budgeting/debt advice but he becomes tearful and they agree to discuss that option at another point in time.
Sarah says “The advice line has been an invaluable resource in lockdown – to reach people in crisis that I would typically see at York Foodbank – but I can’t wait to return to face to face meetings – it’s so much easier to engage with someone in person.”
Thursday – closed
Sarah catches up with admin – passing email referrals from Housing Estate Managers to Alison for budgeting advice and CAP for debt advice.
Sarah responds to emails from members of the public offering to donate bedding, furniture and/or clothing which we are sadly unable to accept because of Covid. Sarah also replies to emails from people wanting to volunteer – forwarding on to Homeless Hub Coordinator, Ray – for when the hub re-opens.
A call from the probation service comes through – a referral for a single female living in a hostel needing a voucher for York Foodbank. Sarah tries to contact the client to find out what is going on and what other support/signposting would be useful – but to no avail.
Sarah takes a phone call from an existing client with no electricity and tops up the meter by £20 using money from the ‘Hardship Fund’.
Sarah says “My job as ‘Community Advice Worker’ for a homeless charity can be intense and at times, emotional – especially when people call up in a state of distress, having exhausted all other support options.
However…I really love my job because it’s so rewarding – the practical support and advice we provide makes a difference to people in difficult and sometimes dangerous situations and that makes everything else worthwhile.”