A day in the life of a specialist refuge support worker

A day in the life of a specialist refuge support worker

Since International Women’s Day, we have been sharing blogs from members of our staff team describing a typical day. Today we are looking at a day in the life of a support worker in one of our specialist refuges which support women fleeing men’s violence, including sexual exploitation, who also have problematic substance use.

I start my shift at 8am and get a handover from the nightshift worker. One of the women has had a difficult night with dental pain and needs support to book an emergency dentist appointment but is resting for now.

There’s a new woman moving in this morning so I check that the room is clean and ready for her arrival. I make up the bed with new bedding and I put a gift bag filled with toiletries and some fluffy socks on the desk. I call the woman and arrange to meet her outside a local supermarket so I can show her where to go.

In the meantime, I support one of the residents to call 111 and she is booked in for a dentist appointment later that afternoon. The woman is terrified of the dentist and needs staff support to attend so I make a note to hand over to the late shift worker who’ll accompany her.

I go and wait outside the supermarket for the new arrival. It’s raining and I’m not sure what she’s wearing but I’ve described myself to her so she can find me. After about 15 minutes, I spot a woman looking a bit lost and anxious. A gut instinct tells me she’s the new resident. I approach her and ask her name and she seems relieved as she tells me she’s spoken to me on the phone this morning.

We arrive back at the refuge and I make her a hot drink and check if she has any immediate health issues that need to be addressed. She’s physically fine, thankfully, so I show her to her new room and give her the grand tour. The woman has arrived with no belongings so the first thing we do is get in touch with partner agencies who provide donated clothing. We go through some of the intake paperwork while chatting about what she would like to achieve during her stay, then she decides to watch a bit of TV in the shared lounge to decompress.

I finish my shift at 3.30pm after a handover meeting with the late shift worker and I feel pleased that we’ve been able to provide safe accommodation to a woman who needs it but I wish there were more spaces available so we can support everyone who needs it.

If you would like to donate to support nia’s work with women, girls and children who have been subjected to men’s violence, you can do so here: https://www.justgiving.com/niaproject

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