A day in the life of… CENS’ Manager

What does it take to run a night shelter? Manager, Marina Woodrow shares her schedule and how she tackles any situation at Colchester Engagement and Next Steps

8am I usually check my emails at home to ensure that if I need to alter my schedule I can let my staff know as soon as possible. My job is so versatile and although I have my usual duties there are truly never two days the same!

9.30am-9.45am I deal with whatever emails have come through since I left yesterday and arrive at CENS. I used to ensure that I was on-site to see our guests before they left for the day. However, I tend to get too involved and therefore made the decision to take a step back from this. I do not need to have a front-facing role as I have excellent staff to help the residents. I only make myself available to our guests when I need to and a process has been followed. This empowers the staff in their roles and responsibilities.

10am First things first – coffee and Lamplight catch up (lamplight is our database). My timing is perfect – all staff are thirsty so my first job is to ensure they are watered!

10.30am After Lamplight is checked, I discuss the happenings of the previous shift with Patsi and Julie. We discuss service charges, breath and drug tests and any information that has come to light. We agree on any action to be taken for this evenings shift.

11.30am I have a phone call scheduled with Housing Justice regarding a bid for some funding that I am writing. They offer me feedback and suggestions which they will put it an email. This is a huge help.

12pm Following the call I spend some time collating my supporting documents and statistical data so I am able to work on the bid again once I have received the feedback via email.

1pm I break away from my laptop to join a conversation in the office regarding a potential referral. There is some discussion around local connections and housing options. We agree we need more information before we can make a decision to ensure we do not accept an inappropriate referral. Patsi is on the case and starts investigating our queries with other agencies.

2pm I have a conversation with one of my Trustees regarding finances. I have just invoiced for our funding from Essex County Council and it should arrive in our account soon. Whilst I am using my “finance brain” I decide I will start reconciling the debit card purchase paperwork early as it is half way through the month already. I also pre-prepare payroll as it is due whilst I am on annual leave so I need to think two weeks ahead.

3pm I receive an email from a support worker referring one of our tenants from our move-on house for counselling. We recently secured funding for this purpose so I call a local counselling organisation called Lifeforce and arrange for a referral phone call to get the process underway. Our tenant is quite nervous so I ask if they would like support during the phone call. They confirm that they would so I log this on our database and add it to my diary so I am on-hand to support at the telephone appointment.

3.30pm I receive a phone call from a company I had previously contacted regarding a project I have planned. We discuss costings so that I am able to write a proposal to present at the next Trustee meeting. Following this positive phone call I contact an Estate Agent to arrange a viewing of a premises. I begin writing my draft.

4pm I receive an impromptu visit from a landlord who we work closely with. He has popped by to drop off some electric cards as he is going on holiday. We hold cards at CENS for his tenants. We have a coffee and a chat about his tenants who are mostly referrals from us. They are all doing well with one working and planning to move on somewhere that his children can have a bedroom and stay over.

4.45pm I leave the office just as the evening support staff arrives to prepare for their shift. We have a quick catch up with a few updates before they open at 5pm

5.30pm I am attending a cheque presentation and talk this evening at a Masonic Lodge so I quickly get home to walk the dog before I leave for the venue. I always have my presentations and talks pre-prepared so I do need to worry about what I will say. I am at my happiest when I am allowed to talk about all our great work at CENS!

7pm The evening goes well and the dinner was extremely tasty…  I would say it was absolutely on par with the meals we provide at CENS 😉

10pm Just got in! I am very happy with the all positive feedback received. Another day done, I am very fortunate to work at CENS and I look forward to what the next day will bring.

CENS Essential Shopping List

  • Tea
  • Coffee
  • Sugar
  • Hot chocolate
  • UHT milk
  • Squash
  • Vgetable oil
  • Gravy granules
  • Ketchup
  • Mayonnaise
  • Salt & pepper
  • Stock cubes
  • Herbs and spices
  • Tinned fruit
  • Tinned/packet custard
  • Baked beans
  • Tinned tuna
  • Tinned vegetables & potatoes
  • Tinned tomatoes
  • Kidney beans
  • Breakfast cereals
  • Jam, peanut butter, chocolate spread
  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Men & women’s deodorant
  • Men’s razors
  • Shave gel
  • Shower gel
  • Toothpaste
  • Cloths
  • Scourers
  • Washing up liquid
  • Surface cleaners
  • Floor cleaner
  • Bleach
  • Bathroom cleaners
  • Bin bags
  • Food caddy liners
  • Loo roll
  • Washing tablets
  • AA batteries
  • NEW single duvets
  • Pillows/pillowcases
  • Single duvet covers/sheets
  • Clean/good condition towels

Please no soups!
Thank you