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GMHF reflections - giving the power to my people

As we look back on the past three years, we got the thoughts of some of the colleagues who have worked on the programme to get their reflections of what being a GM Housing First hero means. In the final part of our series, we have Riverside's Joe Molloy.

I support six people who have been homeless for a long time or who found it hard to keep housing. I help them to find and then manage a tenancy alongside other challenges they face. I’m in regular contact with my people and try and see everyone that I work with at least once a week.

Perhaps the thing I like most about this role is that there is a minimal power dynamic. One of the principles of Housing First is unconditional support, and that tenancy support and my support are separated. So basically, even if someone were to lose their accommodation - I'm still here supporting them.

During my home visits, we're not just doing the admin of life, although that is important. Things like tenancy, admin, benefits, mental health, substance misuse, other stuff, all that – we also just have conversations without that power dynamic which can be equally important.

Looking back on my work to date, one of many highlights was when one of my people graduated from the programme. It was somebody who was in temporary accommodation to start with and then a couple of months after they started, they started volunteering for a local homelessness day centre.

They were really committed to that work and they saw it as a way to improve their circumstances. That voluntary work ended up getting them the offer of a part-time, paid position, which they've managed their life really well around, and we got them into a tenancy fairly quickly which also went well.

The last few months of my work with them was mainly just making sure that rents and bills were being paid – I was hardly needed at all. To celebrate we went for pizza and had a really good chat about everything they achieved over the last 18 months. It was a very pleasant memory that I'll hang on to for a long time.

Looking to the future – now we know the programme is continuing, I'm just excited to see what progress the people I’m supporting make.

I think with any support work you're trying to facilitate positive change in the people you support. It’s important to recognize that change isn't linear, so there are going to be ebbs and there are going to be flows.

It’s all about trusting in the process, having chats with people about the issues they're facing, trying to get them to see behaviour patterns and trying to help them build insight into these things.

Making sure that when you do see some very objective progress, you not only praise the person you're supporting for it, but you recognise that in yourself as well and recognise your own positive work.

There are some weeks where it doesn't feel like much positive is happening, but then there are weeks where, like London buses, two to three great things happen at once.

Experiencing those positive steps with my people is why I love what I do.


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