Wednesday, 14 October 2009


Congratulations and gefeliciteerd, me!!!!

After a long break due to illness and complete air-headedness, I now have a job - which actually involves a couple of different jobs!!I am working for a charity called Tyneside Cyrenians, a leading homelessness support/rehabilitation charity which supports homeless and vulnerably housed people to re-integrate back into Society by providing supported/semi-independent living accommodation,training and also rehab for alcohol/substance misuse.

Also, amazingly, due to sheer luck and being in the right place at the right time, I am able to train and get my NVQ certificates 2 and 3 in Social Care, starting in January!!! I was thinking of trying to get funding to do this, but on Monday the co-ordinator mentioned she thought there was funding available for some volunteers to do this through the work they will be doing and some of us put our names down. She just rang me earlier today to confirm I definitely have a place. I need the NVQ 2 and it helps to have 3 too, to get the type of jobs I really want to do once I have enough experience of this type of work. I have felt for ages that I really want to do something of true value in the community - actually within my own community - because of course I am passionate about communities and mutual support within one's own community etc (which is why I am also so pro-co-operatives) I felt really drawn to work with people who really struggle and I really believe I can make a difference in people's lives.

For one job I will be working with clients who have in the past been homeless and sleeping on the streets and who are perhaps now living in supported accommodation; they - some of them - are learning horticulture skills at the project - literally round the corner. There is about a half acre of organic gardens where they grow organic vegetables and fruit and also keep chickens. They have poly tunnels too, which I have always wanted to use. The types of seed they use are -most of them - 'Heritage' varieties, i.e they are or were in danger of dying out but thanks to these proj4cts around the country are now being saved for future. These skills give these clients valuable life tools and experience; some of them can gain qualifications - right up to Degree level - in Horticulture and other related subjects. Not only that but it means they know how to grow their own food and become partly self-sufficient, something which is going to become much more essential in the near future, as prices rise and it becomes more difficult to obtain good quality food. On another level it gives people true independence,self-reliance, autonomy etc. (where previously they only had the illusion of these things??) and essentially it gives them self-confidence and a feeling that they do have control over their own lives etc. For me, it is a chance to do a dream job and get an essential qualification at the same time, as well as working in beautiful surroundings. I feel blessed, and privileged and truly humbled. And it will also help with my own knowledge of organic growing and allow me to gain useful skills. I intend to ask for a digital camera for my birthday, or something towards it anyway, so I can take some photos while working at the Horticulture project.

The other job will be based at a Women's Services Centre about half a mile away, so also local and therefore also enabling me to work in my own community. I will be 'shadowing' one of the experienced support workers and they want to increase the number of activities the women can do while they are at the centre (which in turn leads to them becoming more interested in perhaps doing courses and eventually gaining qualifications, as well as learning skills) One of the things they want to be able to offer is crafts sessions, and because I wrote on my application that I had run a mums and kids crafts group in the past and also done a lot of crafts-ish stuff and also enjoy arty stuff and also knitting, the co-ordinator asked if I wanted to do this with the women. OF COURSE! I can also be involved in thinking up ideas for these sessions. But as well as doing this crafts stuff and other activities during the day, I will be doing some evening work as well, because they are quite stretched in the evenings, staff-wise, and desparately need volunteers and I happened to mention that a lot of my free time is actually in the evenings. The other thing about evening volunteering is that if I get a full time daytime job (which will not be for another 6 months or so,but it is an aim) I will not have to give up my volunteering in the evenings.

All in all I am feeling extremely positive and really excited. A month ago I was feeling a bit 'flat', because I was bored bored bored, wanting to do something but of course not fully ready to work full time. Also, I wanted to do NVQ's but the idea of having to apply for funding, then try and get a work placement and also fit everything around other things I seemed like an impossible task. So, the fact of everything coming together like it has this week seems like too good to be true...although it's about time I had a 'break'!

We had our induction day - there were eleven of us; introducing ourselves was interesting because of the variation in people's backgrounds. And ages...the youngest was a student of age 20 who is trying to get more supermarkets etc to donate the food they cant sell at the end of the day rather than incinerate it, which of course, surely by anyone's standards, is incredibly wasteful and immoral; the oldest was this biddy who wants to do admin. There were a couple of guys who have been through the charity's own rehab services and wanted to give something back. And a few women in similar circumstances to me, i.e mums with kids growing or grown up and plenty of time to spare. We were told about the historyof the charity, its various services, where funding comes from etc, as well as the rules, safety etc and of course personal safety. It's mainly common sense but with extra things to think about because of the client group we are working with.Also, importantly, confidentiality etc.

We were also told something incredible: the Police went out to count the rough sleepers in Newcastle, and the number they came up with was.....2! Tyneside Cyrenians were disgusted with this as it meant they hadn't looked properly or didn't want to look. Now, whenever there is a count done, someone from theyrenians goes with, that way they have to look properly, in places like under bridges and behind buildings, under the shopping centre (where deliveries go) and in multistorey car parks etc. .......TWO!!!!!! Un- be - lieeeeeeee-vable!

Oxymoron of the week: "Police intelligence"

So, watch this space. I now have to arrange to be shown round the horticulture project (even though I've seen it informally) and on Wednesday next week I'm going to my introduction at the Women's Centre. I'll update regularly.

Got a home visit to do this evening with Nigel to an applicant for the Graingerville flat. It's to Amir's sister, but of course she has to be treated as N.E. Applicant, not as Amir's sister. Being Amir's sister will not give her any special treatment, we have to take everyone on their housing need etc. And the all-important co-operability.

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