By far our busiest day in the office, so most of our outreach today will be reactive. This means that rather than following up on non-urgent matters, we keep a close eye on our vendors, have a catch up with those who only visit our office once a week, and make ourselves available to speak to anyone having issues right away. This is when I get the chance to have a quick talk to Alex about the benefits of going to his therapy Tai Chi class, and encourage him to not miss it again.
In the afternoon, following a conversation we have had earlier this month with a council worker on alternative giving in the area, my colleague Emmie and I have a meeting with the local authorities regarding a begging hotspot. We decide on a strategic approach to the problem by offering those at risk legal ways of making an income – such as selling the magazine, along with the much-needed support from other local agencies. We will also work closely with the PCSO and the railway staff to ensure potential vendors will not be approached by drug dealers in the area. The more agencies we bring in on this, the more likely it is that we give these people a better chance.
Following conversations I had with some female Roma vendors during Health Week, I have been trying to put together more information about family planning. The challenge here is that a large amount of them do not speak English. I therefore take it upon myself to bring the information together in Romanian.
The leaflet that results will be circulated amongst our team and used nationally. Some of our projects and campaigns have very long-term goals. Maybe this generation of young Roma women will not make full use of their options when it comes to contraception, but we are raising awareness. This gives the next generation a chance to access more informed choices.
I meet up with Dion, one of our vendors who wants to find his way out of an alcohol addiction that was ruining his health. However, on the journey to rehabilitation, he finds that sleeping on the streets is a major push to consume. He has been in touch with agencies with regards to this, but it feels like the rate of progress punishes his decision more than it rewards it. It’s endlessly frustrating to see someone who wants the change, but hasn’t got access to the resources he needs. He is not a unique case, and problems can range from addiction to class A drugs, to a first step on the journey to managing mental illness. Finding the right environment where someone like Dion can talk openly and gain the confidence and support he needs is where our job comes into play. By facilitating the process we bring new hope to the lives of those who struggle to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
I head for Liverpool Street where I intend to catch up with anyone who will be buying their magazines for a couple of hours. Whilst there I’m happy to find out that Alex has actually attended his Tai-Chi class, a major step forwards to engaging with society, and good therapy for his illness. He is very excited about his next one, and I’m happy to hear he took my advice on-board. We also talk about the possibility of having him on a corporate placement with a law firm, which I think would suit him great. Whilst on the subject, Vince approaches me to enquire about a pitch in Liverpool Street train station – again an opportunity I think would suit him very well. I also offer another one of our vendors help through the Vendor Support Fund for a phone, but this remains to be discussed. I will speak to my colleague Lauren as soon as I get back to the office about all the placement interests I’ve just had. They are all strong candidates so this is a great opportunity for them to gain those vital skills to build up employability.