A Day with the Rock Trust Duty Team
By Andy Murdoch – Compass Operations Manager at the Rock Trust
It’s 9.15am when the first call comes in to the Duty Service phone at our Youth Housing Hub on Albany Street. It’s Kirsty who answers. The receptionist tells her that a young man called Danny* has come in to access our Duty Service. Kirsty checks our database to see if we have worked with him before and sees that he came in for the first time last week to use the shower and get some clean clothes.
Kirsty goes to meet Danny in reception and can immediately see that he is tired and upset. She smiles, introduces herself and asks if he wants to go downstairs to the Youth Housing Hub – have a cup of tea, and talk about what help he needs.
Downstairs there is a café/kitchen, showers and washing machines, a group room and a smaller room for 1-1 meetings. Fiona, our onsite chef, is already in the kitchen with Michael, another of our young people, preparing food for the group tonight. They’re making Vietnamese sticky chicken and vegetable noodles. Michael has been looking for kitchen work but nowhere will take him on without experience, so he’s delighted to be learning from Fiona.
Kirsty sits down with Danny in another room and he explains his circumstances to her. He’s been living in his own tenancy for 6 months now and recently started a job in a supermarket. The problem is that he hasn’t been paid yet and he’s no longer receiving any benefits. He’s worried about paying his rent and how he’s going to afford to travel to work until he gets some money. He suffers from dyslexia and struggles with filling out forms.
Kirsty helps him there and then by making some phone calls and completing the right forms so he can access financial help. She then gives him some food and a bus ticket to get him to work the next day. They arrange for Danny to come back the following week to check in and get anymore interim support he might need. It’s in this way that we can make sure things don’t get worse for Danny and he doesn’t find himself homeless.
At the same time, Moira, who is also part of the Duty Service team, is at the council homeless service at Parliament Square meeting Jess, a 17 year old young woman who has just presented to the council as homeless. Jess is struggling with depression and poor mental health. Her mother also suffers from mental health issues and things have come to a head and she can no longer stay at home. Sometimes when this happens Jess stays with a friend for a few nights but she feels she’s done this one too many times and it’s no longer an option. She is anxious and scared and has nowhere to go.
There are no spaces for her tonight in either of the two young people’s supported accommodation hostels in Edinburgh so the council Housing Officer is trying to find a room in a B&B. Jess is terrified by the idea of spending the night alone in a B&B.
Moira phones Matthew who coordinates the Rock Trust’s Nightstop Service, to see if there any available Hosts for tonight. She explains to Jess how Nightstop works – it involves staying for a few nights (sometimes longer) with someone who has a spare room and wants to help out young people in crisis. All the hosts are fully background checked and trained, which helps to make Jess more confident about it. Jess agrees to try it out. To pursue this option Moira helps Jess to fill out the relevant paperwork and complete a risk assessment.
Back at Albany Street Damian, another member of the team, is briefing staff before the Employability Drop-In group starts at 4pm. Between 5 and 10 young people are expected to drop in to the group, all looking for help with CV’s, job-hunting and online applications. Fiona and Michael have finished making all the food for the group to eat and have gone home for the day.
Matthew arrives back at the Youth Housing Hub with Jess. Jess won’t be able to join her Nightstop Host until 6pm so in the mean time she can have something to eat in our café while Matthew completes the rest of the paperwork.
The cafe starts to fill up as young people arrive for the Employability Drop-In. There are some new faces and some regulars. Staff greet them and make introductions for those who don’t know each other. Damian then briefs the group and goes over the group rules written on the back of the door, encouraging respect, fairness and listening to each other.
The rest of the evening flies by. Matthew goes with Jess to her Nightstop Host where she’ll be staying for the next few days while something more permanent is found for her. The Employability Drop-In runs smoothly, with all of the participants (and staff!) enjoying the very tasty dinner that Fiona and Michael made earlier.
It’s past 6pm when Damian finally locks up the building for the night. It’s been another day meeting new young people, hearing their stories and working out how best to help them to move on from homelessness, or avoid it altogether.
The Rock Trust Duty Service runs at both at our offices at Albany Street (under 26’s) and at the CEC offices (under 18’s). From 9am to 4pm young people can come to us for help, advice, and support. Group sessions also run 3 nights per week.
*(For privacy reasons all the names of young people have been changed)