A day in the life of a...Referral Line worker

In addition to providing much needed affordable homes, Housing for Women also provides Domestic Abuse services for women and children including refuges, community-based support and a confidential Domestic Abuse Advice line. Ayse is a Referral and Advice Line Worker based in Greenwich.
Please describe your job: What do you do?

As Referral and Advice Line Worker my role is to offer confidential advice and support to all callers, concerned family and friends and professionals. My role involves providing emotional and practical support, signposting clients, professionals and others who call. The service is funded for Greenwich residents but we also get calls from elsewhere.

I am the first point of call for a client looking for refuge accommodation. If we have a space I will make a referral, if not, I will run a refuge search or signpost the caller to other agencies. On a daily basis, I update routes to support and make refuge searches for clients and professionals.

I am also responsible for taking Floating Support and Sanctuary Scheme referrals for clients in Greenwich. Our Floating Support service is for clients who live in their own homes or in temporary accommodation. The Sanctuary Scheme is a scheme which provides extra security to ensure clients can live safely in their own homes. Initially, a risk and needs assessment is completed. Clients who have been placed on our waiting list for Floating Support will have access to my support until they are allocated a dedicated Floating Support worker.

I also signpost clients to support for practical issues such as legal issues, safety planning, housing, education, training and employment. Additionally, I am involved in the coordination of clients for the Freedom programme, a workshop focusing on domestic abuse awareness and self-esteem.

What attracted you to work for Housing for Women?

I had worked as a support worker in refuges for approx. 10 years and had then been in various temporary positions for 3 years following this. A friend of mine told me that there was a job going at Housing for Women in June 2018. I applied and was fortunate enough to secure the position in July 2018. It wasn’t long before I realised that supporting victims and survivors of domestic abuse is where my passion lay, and that my true purpose is helping others.

Whereabouts do you sit within the organisation?

I am based within Housing for Women’s Greenwich DVA Services.

What kind of skills do you need to be effective in your role?

I hold both an Advanced Diploma in Therapeutic Counselling and a Women’s Aid WAFE qualification. My skills include good communication and listening skills, empathy and support in a non-judgmental manner as well as an ability to question in a non-intrusive way to gain information. Additionally, my experience of working in a refuge setting as a support worker have given me a wealth of first-hand experience and knowledge.

That must be really challenging?

Yes, it has been. You can’t work in an environment such as this and not be affected by the challenging stories and the pain that you hear or feel following conversations with clients. There are times when it can feel like a lot which is when the importance of self-care kicks in and having an amazing team around you.

Tell us about a typical working day…

The days and weeks fly by so fast and this is because my working day is packed full due to the sheer volume of helpline calls coming in. If I am not answering calls I am making calls, or taking referrals. I spend quite a bit of time inputting data about the calls I have received. In between all my normal duties I get involved in other tasks such as collecting donations, cleaning and clearing, speaking to service users… the list is endless!

What do you love about your job?

The organisation and the team that I am fortunate to be a part of, that genuinely care about the people who come through our service. I have been encouraged to ensure that no client, concerned family/friend or professional is turned away without advice/support or signposting to other agencies. I am working with some awesome, passionate, dedicated and brilliantly talented people. I love the fact that I am trusted to get on and do my job. I get it wrong sometimes and I love the fact that I am not judged but encouraged to learn from my mistakes and move on. No days are the same and amongst all the challenges we face we still make time to have a laugh.

Anything else you want to tell us…?

Right now I feel so grateful to be a part of Housing for Women and Greenwich DVA Services. I want to continue to make a difference to our client group and to all who come in contact with our services.