Debbie gives us the lowdown on a night shift at Colchester Engagement and Next Steps
4.30pm I pull up and park on the driveway. Say a quick hello to a resident from the move-on house next door. I ask how it’s going with his new job, he says he’s enjoying it.
4.40pm I read up on what’s been happening since my last shift on the computer. I got here early today as I haven’t worked for a few nights so there’s a lot to catch up on. I can hear some of the residents waiting outside. We have a new referral in this evening so I read the notes on her.
4.45pm The live-in volunteer comes to the office, I remind her of which residents owe money for service charge. There is also a resident who is due a drug test. If he fails it, he will have a night’s exclusion so it’s important to get this done early so he has time to find somewhere to stay.
5pm The residents come in. We breathaylze everyone in the airlock, check in on their day and ask for payments for anyone who owes money for the service charge.
5.15pm Drug test and breathaylzers are all passed.
5.30pm Some people need their meds. I supervise this as medication is locked away.
5.45pm Dinner is served. It’s a casserole which was prepared by our kitchen volunteer earlier so not much prepping this evening. Most people sit outside as it’s a warm evening. There’s lots of laughter and chatter.
6pm I am due a catch-up with one resident who has been here for 10 weeks. He comes into the office and says that he’s got some good news. His work trial as a sous chef went well and there’s accommodation with the job. He heard this morning that he’s been accepted. This is great news and he hopes to leave next week.
6.30pm Someone else needs help with uploading evidence for their homelessness application to the council. We sit together and go through the list. He finds it overwhelming but we get through it slowly.
7pm The new referral arrives. I make her a cup of tea and take her through to the counselling room. I check that the volunteer is ok while I go through the paperwork.
7.45pm Referral is complete. I show the new resident around and introduce her to everyone. Although she’s nervous, she seems to know a couple of people already from Beacon House. I also grab her some toiletries from the garage and show her to her room. She’s really grateful for a safe place to stay.
8pm Before I help clear up the kitchen and get out some meat to defrost for tomorrow’s meal, I check on everyone in the communal rooms.
8.15pm The phone rings. It’s someone who wants to refer in. I take down all of his details but unfortunately there aren’t any voids at the moment. He’s under 25, so I signpost him to YES. Most importantly, he needs to put in a homelessness application with the council so I suggest he does that asap. I also report him on streetlink.
8.30pm I check which room needs a clean and remind the resident that it’s their day of the week to do a good clean. However, they’re already halfway up the stairs with the mop and bucket!
9pm Another resident knocks on the door for a chat. We go into the counselling room for some privacy. She’s struggling at the moment. Although she’s been sober for three weeks, seeing her family during the day has upset her. I let her talk and offer support, reminding her of all the hard work she’s put in to staying sober. She’s got a group session with Phoenix Futures tomorrow.
9.50pm The buzzer goes. The resident was due back earlier but missed his bus, he’s hungry and grateful I saved him a dinner.
10pm Front doors are locked. I take some time to write up all the notes from the evening. There’s a lot to remember so I have jotted down bullet points but now need to relay everything properly for daytime staff and other project workers.
10.45pm I have a scout around the building and check everything is securely locked. I give the residents a reminder that it’s nearly 11pm. A few of them go out for a final smoke.
11pm Everyone retires to their rooms. It’s been a busy shift but feels like a lot has been achieved.