We have three small offices at 15 Queen Street on the top floor. And a comfortable red sofa on the landing where clients wait if we are busy.
Nearly every piece of furniture has been donated and even the art on the wall, the toys in baskets, the map of origin countries of clients are gifts intended to support us and our clients in feeling at home and support us in being capable of offering a friendly and professional service. We do differ from other services. Most often a client will come with one issue and as we get to know each other we learn of underlying causes and other issues that need to be addressed to create a better outcome for them, and most importantly a sense of welcome and support.
We have never advertised our service although we work with many partner organisations so that they know where we are and what we can offer.
Now, three years after becoming a CIC we have two full time caseworkers with additional support coming from our operations manager, admin manager, students and trainees.
A typical week this month saw 8 new walk in clients, all complex cases, all referred by friends, on top of appointments for existing clients totalling 43 hours.
Even with funding we are dependant on the support of trained volunteers to make sure that each client is heard, supported and casework is followed up.
And without your support the clients who we see could not receive destitution support when needed while we unravel their stories, build trust and get them the help they need.
Covid 19 has added a new dimension to all our work. Luckily we were able to work out how to see clients while complying with social distancing regulations, we have PPE and can make sure we and clients are safe while we continue to see people face to face – an important factor when so many are fearful and alone.
We have also seen a change in the additional clients coming to us. Many have been homeless or dependant on others for support, often for years. Now that the virus has affected so many people some clients have no support left. Our destitution support can be all that prevents somebody from a life on the streets or worse still the feeling that there is no point in life at all.
Nearly all our clients leave our service feeling like part of our RA-C family and we stay in touch wherever they go, into national asylum support, sometimes sadly to detention and most often into jobs, safe homes and education where they become a part of the wonderful local community and finally feel a sense of sanctuary. Our community work is a huge part of that and is always growing and developing to ensure we reach as many clients as possible in a way that is beneficial for them and us.
Written by Maria Wilby, Senior Caseworker
Photo of Shelley, caseworker, and Philip, operations manager