Q : How did you start working for CENS?
A: It was through my husband who did some work as an electrician at CENS. He got chatting to the Manager, Marina, who mentioned the vacancy for a Project Worker. I had recently changed career paths, from working within adult social care to education, but it wasn’t a full-time role, so I needed something extra in the evenings. I already had a fair bit of knowledge from my experience in adult social care which I could apply to this role working with homeless people, and although I knew I didn’t want to be a social worker, I loved working in this sector.
Q: What does a typical shift look like for you?
A: Generally, my shifts are quite sociable. I arrive and let most of the residents in, as they’re usually waiting outside. I cook a bit of dinner and have a chat with everyone. Most of the residents want to catch up and let me know what they’ve been up to. If there’s anything private they want to open up about, I talk to them one-on-one in the new Counselling Room. It tends to be a nice atmosphere here in the evenings, especially now we have a TV in the communal areas.
Q: What’s the best thing about being a Project Worker?
A: I really like getting to know the residents. That’s my absolute favourite part – understanding how they ended up at CENS and learning about their lives. There are so many completely different people in one building who would never normally get the chance to mix.
Q: What’s the hardest part of your role?
A: Sometimes I feel helpless when I see that someone is having a really difficult time. A lot of the work I did in adult social care was over the phone, but it’s quite different when you can see someone in person and their body language is indicating they’re really struggling. There’s often not a lot anyone can really do, other than listen and empathise, which is really important – for them to know that you are there for them.
Q: What’s your most memorable moment at CENS?
A: This year I worked the day after New Year’s Day and all the residents were here. We cooked a roast and got the karaoke out and it was such a great atmosphere. I went home smiling that day.
Q: What future developments would you like to see at CENS?
A: I think it will be good when the residents can stay in the building for a bit longer during the day, which we are trying to get the funding for, but I appreciate it’s important for them to have structure and routine. I think as a large majority of the homeless people we see here are suffering with their mental health, some sort of counselling in-house could be beneficial too. All plans for the future!