Body & Soul’s Lead Social Worker Emile carries on telling us about a week in the shoes of an in-house social worker.Read yesterday’s instalment.
I begin preparing for a busy service evening with the adult members. I’m scheduled to have four appointments of my own and I also need to prepare appointments for our trained casework volunteers to manage and set up our drop-in Help Centre, which is also run by volunteers and overseen by me.
Since we began training volunteers to manage basic casework and navigate key forms and applications at the end of last year, the Help Centre has hugely increased our impact during Tuesday services.
After supporting a particularly vulnerable young adult, Fran, with a council tax issue I then accompany her to an appointment with our pro bono immigration law clinic. Fran has had an extraordinarily traumatic history and suffers from PTSD and high levels of anxiety. She also regularly experiences auditory hallucinations. Fran has been waiting for a decision from the Home Office, based of domestic violence from her previous partner, since 2008. Since then her mental health has deteriorated drastically due to an assault from another ex-partner who stabbed her in the stomach six times. Fran and I go through her immigration paperwork with the solicitors only to discover the Home Office have lost her initial application.
After spending some time calming Fran down, we create an action-plan around our next steps to tackle her immigration difficulties. I will need to carry out the work myself, since her case no longer falls under Legal Aid. We then go through some paperwork that the pro bono solicitors from Hogan Lovells have prepared on Fran’s behalf to file for criminal compensation for the attack.
I finish the evening debriefing our casework volunteers, the majority of whom have carried out hardship applications with our members who are experiencing severe financial hardship. Body & Soul’s volunteers massively amplify what we’re able to do with our limited resources, but the level of need is so high at the moment that every time we expand our provision for support with casework and practical support, we’re immediately at capacity again.