This is the final installment of B&S Head of Social Work Emile’s week-long outline of the varied, busy and complex workload of an in-house social worker supporting the needs of children, young people and families living with and closely affected by HIV at Body & Soul.
Friday mornings are my allocated time to register new members and this morning I meet with Bridget. Bridget is fortunate enough to be supported by friends from church with accommodation and basic meals, in exchange for providing childcare to a family. Body & Soul is the first HIV group she has ever been to since being diagnosed in 2008. She tells me about her experiences of being imprisoned and tortured due to her sexuality. She no longer has any contact with her family and she current has a pending asylum application. She’s keen to meet other people, receive therapies to alleviate her back pain, and begin accessing counselling in order to deal with her traumatic past. The following Tuesday Bridget starts craniosacral therapy provided by volunteer therapists at Body & Soul.
I then finish an application for Section 4 (asylum support) for another member, who is currently sleeping in a church and surviving of charities for food. I have been working closely with her solicitor to start the process of applying for asylum and managing the risks associated with this, such as being detained and dispersed. I also work on enabling her to register with a GP, something she is struggling with due to having no fixed abode.
To finish the week, our Head of Volunteering Programmes has arranged for me to have a taster of Thai massage. We have a new volunteer starting who will soon begin seeing members. Since members’ needs can be very specific, all volunteer therapist are required to complete a thorough induction, including a session with a staff member …which today, is lucky for me!