Jennifer Support Worker
Role: Support Worker
Me and Clifton Housing Project
- I came to be a support worker by accident. Previously I have always worked in retail.
- Through many personal experiences, I have gained my knowledge that gives me the insight into what I hope makes me a good support worker.
A little background about myself
I am a child brought up in a one parent household after my parents had divorced, money was extremely tight and there wasn’t the help of tax credits etc back then, My mother had a breakdown and her mental health had a knock on negative effect during mine and my younger brothers teenage years. We were abandoned physically by a father and emotionally by a mother (through no fault of her own.)
I was lucky to have great friends to talk to and a strong work ethic of my own. I could have easily disappeared into the world of drink and drugs. I did have an issue with drink during my 20’s, what would be classed as a ‘functioning alcoholic’.
My brother wasn’t as lucky as myself and disappeared into recreational drugs at weekends. This ended with him having a psychotic breakdown in his late 20’s and an eventual diagnosis of schizophrenia.
Throw this into my life as a new mother of a 5 month old and a single parent and you can imagine the fun that was. But, even through all the trauma my family had a great survival instinct and we all pulled together, my mom, brother, my child’s father and great friends.
I had a few blips along the way, one been a domestic violence relationship that lasted 4 years. From that though, it opened my eyes to what DV is really about and how it isn’t just a simple answer of ‘just leaving’. I eventually escaped and now I class myself not as a’ victim’ but a ‘survivor’.
I worked part time in retail, volunteered at the Citizens Advice/Home Start to gain further training.
Went to college part time and even started a degree in Counselling, due to finances that couldn’t be finished. (yet!).
It was through the local shop that I worked in that I realised that my life skills could be used in a professional way. People were always asking for my support and advice when I worked behind the counter. I decided to look into support work and via a conversation at the Uni break table, I found an opening. I started out in special needs and then transferred over to Supportive housing.
I’ve worked for a few companies, and I was severely disillusioned with the work practices. I entered this environment to make a difference to peoples lives and not to make money off their erratic and toxic lifestyles. These people are vulnerable to abuse from all avenues.
I’ve known support staff to turn up outside a house, take a picture of the house to prove they were there and then drive off. Support sessions have been forged and maintenance of the properties has been diabolical. Only
when inspections were due was anything done. I have even been ‘let go’, due to me questioning a safeguarding procedure that wasn’t followed through on.
Then along comes Clifton Housing Project, they found me. Lol.
I instantly liked Darrel (even as a scouser) . He was straight talking and what he said came from the heart. As much as he is the business manager and running a business, he actually wants to support vulnerable people who, mainly through the failure of the system have fallen by the wayside and into toxic coping mechanisms.
It was an honour to be asked to join the company.
8 months later, it’s been hard work, there are 3 of us and we work our backsides off and I wouldn’t have it any other way. This is the first company that sticks by its morals and ethics. The company statement is not written just for the fun of it, its what we stand by.
At times it’s so frustrating and we’ve dealt with deaths and violence. We’ve supported our tenants and got them into rehab, for them to relapse and die.
This is the hard side of the job, but the positive side, is when we see our tenants head off to college, or to reduce the number of times they spend in a psychiatric hospital because they feel safe in the home we provide. To see
them believing in and looking forward to a different future. This is what makes it worthwhile.
I know it sounds cheesy, but we are the only ‘family’ that some have, and we give that support that they have previously lacked.
I have seen the company grow within these last months and I know it can only get bigger. Whoever joins our little team of 3 must be have a sense of humour, a willing to work hard and a great big heart. I look forward to seeing what the future brings.