So, whilst continuing to harness the voices of those most vulnerable in our society, I have had to create a media presence. So I've used Wix to set up a temporary website as we've kindly been offered to have one designed for us. So really, this site is better than an "under construction" notice.
I have always had a very keen interest in social justice, which was ignited when I volunteered for the Purbeck Citizens Advice Bureau. I became their Social Policy Coordinator as well as a Generalist Adviser. I continued my passion when becoming Service Manager/Training and Development Manager at Shepway Citizens Advice Bureau 2007-2012.
I joined CatchingLives as a volunteer case manager for the Canterbury Community Shelter in 2012, and was so impressed by the level of passion, commitment and results from everyone in the organisation that I continued to volunteer as a legal adviser, using my Qualified Paralegal status.
I noticed during this time that there were a number of reoccuring issues presenting themselves from our homeless clients and decided to challenge the route causes of these issues, with the backing of Terry Gore the General Manager.
Our past successes and achievements include identifying a rogue landlord in Medway who rented out slums to vulnerable people and aligned himself with organisations that worked with ex-offenders. We took an evidence and impact statement from a service user who had presented at Catching Lives as homeless, then investigated the issue. We managed to get the service user rehoused as he was living in fear of the power his landlord had over him, we then used this evidence and impact statement to raise our concerns with the local authority and asked that they investigate the issues surrounding the landlord. The landlord was eventually found guilty of five counts of failing to comply with an Improvement Notice and was fined £11,000.
Advance has been made with regards to homeless service users who have been discharged from mental health hospitals or general hospitals to street homelessness. Again, evidence and impact statements were collected and a correspondence exchange took place between Catching Lives and Julian Brazier MP in order to work together to improve procedures. Unfortunately the issue still exists, so we have given all of our evidence on the issue to St Mungo’s who have published extracts in their Homeless Health 47 campaign.
The evidence and impact statements that we collected with regards to discharge from mental health hospitals to street homeless and also being used by St Mungo’s for their Mental Health and Homeless campaign, with one of the reports being published to highlight the issue.
We provided advocacy for a service user when he was given incorrect information by a receptionist at local council offices when presenting as homeless. The client had not had a homelessness interview, was disabled and had been sleeping in a concrete car park for three weeks before he presented to Catching Lives. On listening to his statement it was clear that he was in fear of violence and incredibly vulnerable. The issue and evidence to support him was gathered and then we presented him to a local authority who housed him in a place where he no longer felt in fear.
We have shared our evidence and impact statements with the Kent Partnership Manager at the Department of Work and Pensions in order that the issues that are recurring are highlighted.
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I thank you in advance for any help you are able to give us.
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!